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Global Healing and the Covid Era: Literature, Advocacy, Care

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

Emerging Research on Modern East Asian Literature

Inaugural Lecture

Global Healing and the Covid Era: Literature, Advocacy, Care

Speaker: Karen Thornber (Harry Tuchman Levin Professor in Literature, Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations | Harvard University)

Moderator: Pei-yin Lin (Associate Professor | School of Chinese | University of Hong Kong)

Date: 29 September 2021 (Wed), 8:00–9:30 pm (Zoom, HK Time)

Improvements in human health have been monumental over the past century, and the media report frequently on medical miracles. Yet – as the Covid-19 pandemic has made all too clear – serious problems persist. Not only do people suffer from the physical processes of diseases themselves. How individuals with diseases are treated by society, medical and health professionals, and even those closest to them can also cause significant suffering. Individuals with adverse health conditions are all too frequently stigmatized, dehumanized, and silenced. This is particularly true of those who are already subjected to structural violence because of their age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexuality, or other factors.

Healing the social suffering that accompanies disease is a primary goal of the medical and the health humanities. My talk will first introduce both the medical and the health humanities and then will discuss the contributions of literature studies to this field.

Karen Thornber is Harry Tuchman Levin Professor in Literature and Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. She is author of three major scholarly monographs: 1) Global Healing: Literature, Advocacy, Care; 2) Ecoambiguity: Environmental Crises and East Asian Literatures; and 3) Empire of Texts in Motion: Chinese, Korean, and Taiwanese Transculturations of Japanese Literature. Her current book, under preliminary contract, is Gender Justice and Contemporary Asian Literatures. Thornber is also (co)editor of several volumes and has published more than seventy academic articles and book chapters in a broad range of fields in the humanities.



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