The Art of Falling: What Narratives Written by Older Adults Reveal about Human Balancing Acts

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
  • Humanities in Medicine Lecture
Jane Thrailkill, PhD, Director, English MA Program in Literature, Medicine and Culture and Health Humanities Lab (HHIVE), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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Lunch provided at NOON ▪ Talk begins at 12:10pm

Falling is recognized as a serious risk for elderly individuals, often marking the transitional moment where living independently gives way to assisted or nursing home living. An analysis of first-person narratives reveals insight about the ways older adults manage not just aging bodies and challenging environments but also existential aspects of “falling” into new identities late in life. Falling, this archive suggests, provides the occasion for philosophical reflection as well as practical problem-solving.

A scholar of American literature and critical theory, Jane Thrailkill, PhD teaches medical humanities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2015, she co-founded a research-based health humanities lab, HHIVE. “The Art of Falling” emerges from HHIVE’s Falls Narrative Study, an investigation of the ways older adults write about the experience of falling down. Professor Thrailkill is completing a book project entitled The Agony of Empathy in U.S. Medical Education. In her work as a literary scholar, she focuses on the relationship between literature and science, widely construed.

See video recording.