When I attended the WMU Medical Humanities Conference last fall, I heard about an upcoming conference called The Examined Life: Writing, Humanities, and the Art of Medicine. And now, I’m fortunate enough to not only be attending this conference but also be presenting about my childhood cancer narrative research!
The Examined Life conference explores “the links between the science of medicine and the art of writing.” This conference seems to align perfectly with my own dual interests in medicine and literature. I think that participating in this conference will help me to figure out how I can maintain and balance both passions throughout my career, and I’m looking forward to meeting others in these fields with their own insight and experience to share.
At the Examined Life conference just one week from now, I’ll be doing something a bit different. In writing my Honors English thesis over the course of this year, I realized just how crucial my methodology has been in shaping the adolescent cancer narratives that I wanted to analyze. As a result, rather than just presenting about my research, I’ll be leading a discussion forum this time. Specifically, we will be discussing the ethics inherent in my methodology and thoughts that may be sparked from encountering these narratives. I’m curious, nervous, and excited to see what comes out of this discussion. I believe that these conversations will give me a lot to think about as I look towards further developing my honors thesis.
Here’s the abstract for my discussion forum:
I’ve never been to Iowa! I’m excited.
The people who I met, the conversations that we had, the ideas and passions that were exchanged and explored. These are the aspects that I enjoyed most at the Third Annual WMU Medical Humanities Conference, the things that I was most looking forward to and that I hope to experience at more conferences in the future.
I have to say, I think that this was one of my best presentations about my research. I’ve realized that I perform best as a speaker when I speak freely. The presentations that preceded mine throughout the day were inspiring. I felt my passion for my research empower me, and I was able to overcome anxiety with enthusiasm about my findings. The response to my presentation was overwhelmingly supportive and encouraging; some scholars were eager to share my project with students, others inviting me to stay in touch and explore their graduate programs. As the only student presenting, it was truly an honor to participate and I was fortunate to have such a great, interactive audience.
The entire conference was an adventure. From the woman who sat next to me on the shuttle bus to the Founding Dean of Western Michigan University’s Medical School, I had the opportunity to meet a variety of people. People had travelled from across the nation and as far as England to present and participate in this conference, to share the projects they were passionate about and to learn about the passions of others. With this interdisciplinary field, there was an interesting assortment of people: humanities and social science scholars, clinicians, educators, and many overlaps amongst these. Each presentation offered new insight about different facets of Medical Humanities, and the discussions that unravelled afterwards were equally engaging and thought-provoking. Being physically in the presence of Medical Humanities people helped me to better understand this field, and I’ll be incorporating some of my new thoughts from the conference in blog posts to come.
Here’s my WMU Medical Humanities Presentation: I wrote out notes in preparation, but they were by no means memorized. For those who would like to share my research with other students, I am honored. I really appreciate the support and enthusiasm!