Jane E. Schultz is Professor of English and Director of Literature at Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis, where she teaches courses in nineteenth century literature and culture and illness narrative. This Birth Place of Souls, an edition of one of the last extant American Civil War nursing diaries, was published by Oxford University Press in 2010. Her Women at the Front: Hospital Workers in  Civil War America (The University of North Carolina Press, 2004), a history of gender and relief work in the Civil War, received Honorable Mention for the 2005 Lincoln Prize.

In a CMH affiliates meeting on Friday afternoon, Jane will share thoughts on what she is calling “the fantasy of exception” – the tendency for ill people or those receiving pessimistic diagnoses to frequently respond by believing that they will be the exceptional case that beats the odds. Individuals, even those who are relatively isolated from advocates and other support mechanisms, enunciate this exceptionalism; and when a celebrity like Lance Armstrong survives a stage-4 cancer diagnosis, exceptionalist thinking gains public ground.  Jane is exploring how “the fantasy of exception” functions as a trope in many medical narratives, and argues it is one worth thinking about for what it says about psychological resilience and folly, about human survival instincts and our mortal agency.

Joining Jane will be CMH affiliate Maggie O’Neill, a Reader in Criminology in the School of Applied Social Sciences at Durham University. Maggie has extensive experience of working in inter-disciplinary contexts to explore the development of theory, innovative biographical, cultural and participatory research methodologies and the production of praxis – knowledge which addresses and intervenes in public policy. Her research activities have been instrumental in moving forward debates, dialogue and scholarship in three substantive areas: prostitution and the commercial sex industry (since 1990); forced migration and the asylum-migration nexus (since 1999); innovative participatory, performative and visual  methodologies (since 1990).

Maggie will share approaches and experiences in her current research: Community, Politics and Resistance: doing participatory and biographical research in down town eastside Vancouver. This participatory research is with residents living and working in downtown east side Vancouver; Maggie will specifically discuss the use of arts based walking methodology. Locating this within a broader trajectory of biographical and participatory research she will share some of the digital stories and images created by participants that offer multi-sensory, dialogic and visual routes to understanding the lived experience of others.


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