Hiram College

The Seminar

As object and as method, narrative has long occupied a central place in the health humanities. While practitioners of narrative medicine have called for “narrative competence” in clinical education, Sayantani DasGupta’s concept of “narrative humility” reorients us toward more just and attentive practices of care. As G. Thomas Couser and others have argued, autobiographical narratives of illness can offer a crucial form of counterdiscourse to biomedicine; at the same time, others have probed the limitations of narrative. In the 23rd Hiram Summer Seminar, we will investigate the narratives and counternarratives of the health humanities as we enter the next decade of the twenty-first century. We welcome participants from all fields, including the humanities, arts, social sciences, and health care. Through a series of immersive and inclusive discussions and workshops, we aim to investigate questions such as:


  • Twenty-five years after the publication of Arthur Frank’s influential study The Wounded Storyteller, how might we re-conceptualize illness narratives? How have social, cultural, and technological shifts of the past several decades affected how—and by whom—stories of health, illness, disability, and embodiment are told?
  • In what ways could we complicate the promotion of “narrative thinking” in medical education by re-thinking or un-thinking the centrality of narrative itself? In unsettling narrative, what other forms of inquiry and expression present themselves?
  • What narratives and counternarratives surround the emergence and development of health humanities as a transdisciplinary field? How have the contributions of interlocutors in diverse areas—e.g. disability studies, LBGTQ+ studies, public health—produced counternarratives that de-emphasize the clinical encounter? While the intersections of narrative and health have been extensively explored by literary scholars, how might other disciplinary approaches to narrative expand upon and/or critique existing frameworks?
  • As scholars, teachers, and practitioners, in what ways can we commit ourselves to uplifting and producing work that counters and challenges dominant cultural narratives of colonialism, white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity, ableism, and ageism?


The seminar will open with an evening reception on Wednesday, July 8, and run for three full days (Thursday to Saturday) on the scenic rural campus of Hiram College, located in Northeast Ohio’s historic Western Reserve region. Each day will feature a “master class” led by an established scholar in the field, followed by breakout workshop sessions on topics in the health humanities facilitated by other scholars, for which participants may optionally submit materials to discuss with colleagues. In addition, seminar participants will have the option to share their own work in the form of lightning talks and an open mic night. Participants will engage with colleagues in the intimate, collaborative environment of the academic seminar, and will have the opportunity to enjoy evening social events, unwind with meditation and yoga sessions, hike the trails at the Hiram College Field Station, and experience the unique, restorative, retreat-like atmosphere the Hiram Summer Seminar offers.

Workshop Sessions

Participants will select two two-hour breakout workshop sessions to attend during the course of the seminar. Facilitated by faculty experts, workshop sessions are intended to provide a space for supportive, constructive small-group discussion on modes of scholarly, creative, social, and pedagogical engagement in the health humanities. Participants will have the option to submit brief samples of work in advance of the seminar; along with faculty leaders, workshop attendees will be expected to review fellow colleagues’ materials and provide feedback during the workshop.


Click here for workshop descriptions.


$800 if registered by May 1. $900 if registered thereafter. Price includes tuition, 4 nights lodging, all meals and libations, and resource materials. (If you prefer not to stay on campus, the registration price is $600 if registered by May 1, or $700 thereafter).


Seminar participants will be accommodated in air-conditioned townhouses on Hiram College campus. Guests will have a private bedroom, and will share two bathrooms and central living area with other seminar participants. Townhouses contain full kitchens and washer/dryers. Participants who do not wish to stay in college housing may book their own accommodation at the on-campus Hiram Inn for an additional cost.


Enrollment will be limited for both the seminar and workshop in order to ensure the intimate setting of exchange and participatory learning with colleagues that has been a key part of the Center’s summer seminars for more than twenty-five years. We welcome participants from all fields, especially health care, the humanities, and the social sciences.

Application Deadline

Please apply online by April 1. Applications will close at 11:59 PM EST. Notifications of acceptance will be made by April 15.

For More Information, Contact the Conference Coordinators



Center for Literature and Medicine
Hiram College
Mahan House
P.O. Box 67
Hiram, OH 44234