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A talk by Prof. Jane Thrailkill - Empathetics, Inc: The Instrumentalization of Feeling in Medical Education

February 28, 2017

TIME: March 16, 2017 at 4 p.m.

PLACE: LIBRARY BUILDING (LB) 646, J.W. McConnell Bldg, 1400 Maisonneuve Blvd West

ABSTRACT: Efforts to put empathy to use in healthcare has produced a sub- genre of clinical humor that pokes fun at the instrumentalization of feeling. This talk explores how dark humor, which uses incongruity to point up social and structural absurdities, might serve as a productive mode of cognition and critique. Drawing on the theories of Henri Bergson and Kenneth Burke, this talk argues that dark humor provides space for essential conversations about burnout, patient care, clinical competence, and compassion.

JANE F. THRAILKILL is Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is currently co-director of HHIVE, a new health humanities lab housed in UNC’s Department of English and Comparative Literature. Her talk "Empathetics, Inc." forms the core of her current health humanities project: The Agonies of Empathy in U.S. Medical Education. Trained as a literary scholar, Prof. Thrailkill works on the relationship between literature and science, widely construed. She is author of Affecting Fictions: Mind, Body, and Emotion in American Literary Realism (Harvard UP, 2007) and is completing a monograph on the play-based philosophies of the James siblings, Alice, William, and Henry.

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