Bibliotherapy and Life Writing, Mary Mahoney
Scholars in the history of the book often note that the history of reading is also the history of writing. I draw on a similar concept to teach a class on histories of bibliotherapy and life writing. In my course, I present case histories of readers who have had therapeutic encounters with texts. I then ask students to write about their own lives as readers, reflecting on texts that have provided a language for their own experiences. I plan to present on my course concept and its implications for narrative medicine and the health humanities.
Mary Mahoney is a historian and the Digital Scholarship Coordinator at Trinity College. She is currently at work on a history of bibliotherapy in the United States.
Trauma, Affect, and Rupture in Multimodal Texts: Teaching Graphic Medicine in the Arts and Humanities, Melissa Jacques
In January of this year I taught my department’s senior-level course in auto/biography as a course in Graphic Medicine. It was my first opportunity to teach life writing in my current faculty, and my approach was a departure from the more conventional narrative approach of my now retired predecessor. In “Trauma, Affect, and Rupture,” I reflect on this experience as a testament to the affective power of the relation between image and text, especially when this relation is characterised by disjunction. What I’m most interested in is the pedagogical power of images that refuse to function “simply” as an illustration of the text, especially those images that seem to defy representation altogether. Using Jane Alison’s Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative (2019) and Shoshana Felman’s “Education and Crisis, or the Vicissitudes of Listening” (1992), I will argue that these moments of disjunction mark the places within multimodal texts where trauma is represented most authentically. And while I was aware, intellectually, of the potential of these moments of rupture within the texts on my reading list, it was not until I asked my students to reflect on them together that I understood this complex transmission of traumatic experience as an embodied effect.
Melissa Jacques is an Associate Professor of Teaching at the University of British Columbia. She teaches courses in theory, popular culture, and writing studies. Her research interests include trauma theory, queer theory, Holocaust Studies, crime fiction, and graphic/narrative medicine. She also writes (and publishes) nonfiction/memoir.
Pedagogies of the Mad, Theresa Tinkle
Autobiographies by mad people have proliferated recently, providing excellent opportunities to bring the voices of the mad into the academic curriculum. By narrating their lives, mad folks express authority over their conditions, define their identities in relation to (often in opposition to) medical and cultural discourses, and create retrospective narrative coherence out of disorienting and often painful experiences. To explore intersections between neurodiversity and life writing, I will discuss an undergraduate course entitled “Mental Memoirs,” which examined neurodiversity from multiple perspectives, examined social and medical models of mental illness, and challenged stigma and stereotypes about mental illness.
Theresa Tinkle is professor of English, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and Director of the Gayle Morris Sweetland Center for Writing at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She published on medieval literature, pedagogy, and disability, specifically mental illness.