Four speakers to discuss healing and literature

Four speakers will discuss different aspects of healing and literature when Stong College presents Imagined Healers, a panel discussion on Friday.

Imagined Healers will take place March 26, from 4:30 to 6:30pm in the Stong Master’s Dining Room, 101 Stong College, Keele campus.

Left: Elizabeth Sabiston

English Professor Tina Choi, also a faculty member in the Graduate Program in Science & Technology Studies, will discuss “Representations of Germ Theory in Late-19th-Century Popular Journals”. Late-19th-century bacteriology transformed the world of the Victorians by describing the invisible, ubiquitous and often malicious creatures within it. Popular scientific and literary works reimagine the world from the germ’s point of view, often to comic effect.

Ann Gagné, a PhD candidate in the University of Western Ontario’s Department of English, will talk about “Telepathic Touch, Healing Power and the Complex Ethics of Spiritualism”. The paper will explore how spiritualism in late Victorian texts can be seen as a direct commentary on the epistemology of touch seen in legislation such as the Contagious Diseases Acts of the 1860s. Through a reading of Thomas Hardy’s story “The Withered Arm”, Gagné will demonstrate how “ghost hands” and their touch highlight the ethical complexity of social and medical negotiations in Victorian society.

Right: Hédi Bouraoui

York English Professor Elizabeth Sabiston will discuss “George Eliot’s Tertius Lydgate: Misogyny and the Medical Profession in Middlemarch”. One of the protagonists of Middlemarch (1871-1872), sometimes called George Eliot’s “medical novel”, is the idealistic young physician Tertius Lydgate. The dominant metaphor of the novel is “the systole and diastole” of the human heart, but Lydgate’s ultimate defeat is cause by his failure to connect head and heart, the rationalism of science with the compassion of humanism. Sabiston’s publications include a book on 19th-century British women novelists, Private Sphere to World Stage from Austen to Eliot (Ashgate Publishing, 2008).

York French studies Professor Hédi Bouraoui, who also teaches in the Graduate Program in English, will read his poem “Cardiologue/The Cardiologist”, from his book, In-side Faces/Visages du Dedans, a collaborative work with the artist Micheline Montgomery. He will also read a brief portion of the preface.

Everyone is welcome to attend. A reception will follow the discussions.