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'Intersections: (Dis)Ability & the Arts' series outlines how arts and medical fields interact
Posted 10/07/2019 01:32PM

M.K. Czerwiec, R.N., M.A.The Department of Fine Arts and the Medical and Health Humanities Program at Misericordia University are collaborating to present the three-part series, “Intersections: (Dis)Ability & the Arts,’’ in 2019-20 featuring renowned artists and scholars. The programs, which begin Nov. 18, are free and open to the public.

Northeastern Pennsylvania has numerous outlets for artistic creativity and health care facilities that serve the region’s diverse community. However, there are few forums to elicit an exchange of ideas between these domains. In order to close this existing gap and provide awareness of the ways in which the arts and medical fields interact, Misericordia University’s academic departments and the Soyka Fund for the Humanities organized and sponsored the interactive series featuring four key focal points: Disciplines, Communities, Practices and Narratives.

“Intersections: (Dis)Ability & the Arts” is also supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

The series begins Monday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. with the presentation, “Drawing on Disability: Graphic Medicine,’’ by M.K. Czerwiec, R.N., M.A., in Huntzinger and Alden Trust Rooms 218-219 of Sandy and Marlene Insalaco Hall. In her book, “Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371,’’ Czerwiec considers the vulnerability of illness and the culture of discrimination and others that surrounded AIDS/HIV patients in the 1990s. Drawing from her text and her other work on graphic medicine and disability, the author will explore the intersection of art, medicine and disability by taking the audience through a visual journey of how health communities and society have viewed disability and ways in which comics allow for individualization, community building, and empathetic approaches to health care.

Czerwiec, also known as the “Comic Nurse,’’ is a co-founder of the field graphic medicine, which explores the interaction of comics and medicine as a mean of engaging with visual-narrative representations of health and illness. She is a Senior Fellow at George Washington School of Nursing Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement and artist-in-residence at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.

The series continues on Friday, Feb. 21 at 12 p.m. with the presentation, “Music and Mental Illness in Shakespeare,’’ by Kendra Preston Leonard, Ph.D., a musicologist and music theorist, in the Catherine Evans McGowan Room of the Mary Kintz Bevevino Library.

During her presentation, Dr. Leonard will discuss how many forms of disability, including mental illness, are encountered through theater, film and television. While there are numerous works dealing with mental illness, the public can also look to the humanities to discover how our current understanding of it has been constructed and mediated. Dr. Leonard will outline how music functions as a signifier of mental health in films and stage performances of Shakespeare’s plays. She will illustrate how research in the humanities can be used to interpret and learn about the cultural, social and other influences that have led to the public’s present discourse around mental illness.

She is the author of five scholarly books and numerous book chapters and articles on Shakespeare and music. In addition, Dr. Leonard is the founder and executive director of the Silent Film Sound and Music Archive, the founder and manager of SHEAF: Shakespeare in Early Film Database, and the head of scholarship and research at the Institute for Composer Diversity at SUNY-Fredonia.

Stefan Sunandan Honisch, Ph.D., will offer an interactive presentation on Wednesday, April 20 at 7 p.m. in Huntzinger and Alden Trust Rooms 218-219 of Insalaco Hall that unpacks the complicated musical legacy of the blind pianist, teacher and writer Edward Baxter Perry (1855-1924). He will apply key insights from contemporary intersectional scholarship and critical disability studies in order to more fully understand the complex interplay between history, culture, and the body that shapes Perry’s legacy.

Dr. Honisch is an associate fellow at the University of Victoria’s Centre for Studies in Religion and Society. He spent the 2017 fall semester as a postdoctoral researcher at Uppsala University, within the Engaging Vulnerability unit, a position funded by the Swedish Research Council. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Public Disability History and serves on the Journal of Teaching Disability Studies Review Board. Dr. Honisch has been awarded a two-year Banting postdoctoral fellowship to pursue research on Helen Keller’s musical life.

For more information about the medical and health humanities program at Misericordia University, please call 570-674-6400 or visit www.misericordia.edu/ medicalhumanities.

Michael and Tina MacDowell Hall


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