Low Plaza

Program in Narrative Medicine Presents Reading, Discussion with Author Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag
Photo credit/copyright: Annie Leibovitz,
courtesy of the artist

Susan Sontag considers depictions of brutality and our responses as viewers, as she reads from her upcoming book "Regarding the Pain of Others," to be published in February 2003. A discussion, book signing and reception will follow Sontag's reading. The event will be held on Thursday, November 7, at 5:30 p.m. in Alumni Auditorium, 1st Floor, Black Building, 650 W. 168th Street, on the Health Sciences campus.

"Regarding the Pain of Others" takes a fresh look at the representation of atrocity in our culture -- from Goya's "The Disasters of War" to photographs of the American Civil War, lynchings of blacks in the South, and Dachau and Auschwitz, to contemporary horrific images of Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and New York City on September 11, 2001.

"As long as a particular disease is treated as an evil, invincible predator, not just a disease, most people with cancer will indeed be demoralized by learning what disease they have. The solution is hardly to stop telling cancer patients the truth, but to rectify the conception of the disease, to de-mythicize it," wrote Sontag in "Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors."

"Susan Sontag's 'Illness as Metaphor' was the first to point out the accusatory side of the metaphors of empowerment that seek to enlist the patient's will to resist disease. It is largely as a result of her work that the how-to health books avoid the blame-ridden term 'cancer personality' and speak more soothingly of 'disease-producing lifestyles.' Sontag's new book 'AIDS and Its Metaphors' extends her critique of cancer metaphors to the metaphors of dread surrounding the AIDS virus. Taken together, the two essays are an exemplary demonstration of the power of the intellect in the face of the lethal metaphors of fear," wrote Michael Ignatieff in The New Republic.

The event is organized by the Program in Narrative Medicine and is open to those with Columbia I.D. For additional information about the program, call 212-305-4975 or email kad97@columbia.edu.

Directions: Subway 1, 9, A or C train to 168th St. Walk less than a block west of Broadway, along W. 168th, and the Black Building (650) is on the left. Upon entering the Alumni Auditorium is immediately to the right.

Published: Oct 31, 2002
Last modified: Oct 31, 2002

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