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Explorations in the Medical Humanities: Chronic Pain and Personhood

Public Humanities, Explorations in the Medical Humanities

dateApril 6, 2023 timeThursday, 5:30pm EDT location Lerner Hall, Room 555, Columbia UniversityColumbia affiliates only locationVirtual Event
  • Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
  • Columbia Public Health Club
  • Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Dictionary page of "A" words with definitions whited out and "pain" handwritten over them

A discussion between Travis Chi Wing Lau (Kenyon University) and Rachel Adams (Columbia University) on poetry as seen through the lens of chronic pain and disability. This conversation will center around Dr. Lau’s engagement with his chronic pain through his poetry, particularly on how disability justice and theory have informed his crip poetics of pain. Alongside Dr. Adams’s work on the role of personal narrative in disability studies, this talk reimagines the chronic pain crisis in America in terms of personal embodiment. In other words, bringing personhood back into the public health framework.

Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.

About the Author


Travis Chi Wing Lau is an Assistant Professor of English at Kenyon College. His research and teaching focus on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature and culture, health humanities, and disability studies. Alongside his scholarship, Lau frequently writes for venues of public scholarship like Synapsis: A Journal of Health Humanities, Public Books, Lapham’s Quarterly, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. His poetry has appeared in Barren Magazine, Wordgathering, Glass, South Carolina Review, Foglifter, and The New Engagement, as well as in two chapbooks, The Bone Setter (Damaged Goods Press, 2019) and Paring (Finishing Line Press, 2020).

Rachel Adams is a Professor and Associate Chair; in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. Professor Adams specializes in 20th- and 21st-century literatures of the United States and the Americas, disability studies and health humanities, media studies, theories of race, gender, and sexuality, and food studies. Her most recent book is Raising Henry: A Memoir of Motherhood, Disability, and Discovery, published by Yale University Press in 2013 and winner of the 2014 Delta Kappa Gamma Educators' Award. She is also the author of Continental Divides: Remapping the Cultures of North America (University of Chicago Press, 2009) and Sideshow U.S.A.: Freaks and the American Cultural Imagination (University of Chicago Press, 2001).