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2018 Misher Festibal of Fine Arts and Humanities2018 Misher Festival of Fine Arts and Humanities

Embracing the Medical Humanities

The Misher Festival of Fine Arts & Humanities presents a series of open classes and lectures inspired by the burgeoning field of medical humanities. Medical schools across the nation are investing in medical ethics (like the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania, which “aims to improve patient care, medical science, and healthcare policy through outstanding bioethics scholarship”), narrative medicine (like Columbia University, which argues that the “effective practice of healthcare requires the ability to recognize, absorb, interpret, and act on the stories and plights of others”), and more. At New York University School of Medicine—home of this year’s Misher Visiting Professor—their Division of Medical Humanities promotes “excellence in key skills required for medical education and practice including listening, empathy, observation, self-reflection, understanding of human interactions, culturally-sensitive communication and written and verbal expression.” Like other medical humanities programs, the bachelor of science in medical humanities at USciences not only prepares students for medical school, but we promote a humanistic, interdisciplinary experience of the historic, cultural and social contexts in which medicine and biomedical sciences are practiced.

For more information, contact Prof. Christine Flanagan,  All events are free and open to the public unless noted.

The Misher Festival of Fine Arts & Humanities celebrates former University President Allen Misher’s vision of an undergraduate education that embraces history, philosophy, literature and cultural studies alongside biology, chemistry, and more.


Friday, April 27

RESCHEDULED: 2018 Misher Professor Lecture — What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear
2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Griffith Hall A

Welcome Reception begins at 2 p.m. prior to the talk in the Griffith Lobby.

Writer, physician, and teacher Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD (Pharmacology), this year's Misher Visiting Professor of Humanities, believes that a meaningful chat with your physician could save your life. Even in this age of advanced scanning technology, your ability to clearly describe your health problems—and help your doctor understand them—is critical to getting an accurate diagnosis, says Dr. Ofri, an associate professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine and author of What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear. Research shows provider-patient conversation is so powerful, it can even numb pain: In one 2014 study, patients receiving a sham treatment for chronic back pain reported a nearly 55 percent decrease in their discomfort when their physical therapist listened actively, showed empathy and warmth, and offered encouragement. But too often, doctors take a more hurried approach in the name of efficiency: Ofri cites a study that found that doctors typically interrupt their patients 12 seconds after they start talking. “Doctors need to stop talking, turn away from the computer, and give patients one to two minutes of full-frontal listening,” Ofri says.

Following the lecture, join us for a reception held in honor of Dr. Ofri’s work; the reception will also feature an art exhibit by the newly-formed USciences Student Art Club. 


During the 2018 Misher Festival, the Department of Humanities welcomes visitors to classes offered by faculty who teach in the bachelor of science in medical humanities program. If there is a class you are interested in visiting not listed here, please contact Kevin Murphy, PhD, Department of Humanities chair, and we will help you arrange your visit!

Monday, March 19

The Culture of Latin America
11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
Glasser Hall 203

This course explores the languages, cultures, literature, politics and society of Latin America from a multidisciplinary perspective (Anthropology, Economics, History, Art History, Literary Studies, and Musicology) during its formative years (Pre-Hispanic to 1825). Students examine two major pre-Hispanic civilizations, the Aztecs and Incas, and explore the conditions that made possible Spanish exploration and domination after 1492. More and more, cultural and global awareness is a requirement for today’s healthcare practitioner.

Martin CarrionThe research of Martin Carrion, MPP, PhD, assistant professor of Spanish and humanities, focuses on interdisciplinary readings of Andean and Mexican colonial texts, cultural productions, Transatlantic Studies, Post-colonial Studies, and Latino Studies. This winter, he taught a free online course for college students in Puerto Rico who are still recovering from the destruction of Hurricane Maria; Dr. Carrion also advises the political science club on campus.

Tuesday, March 20

Ancient Medicine
3 to 4:20 p.m.
McNeil Science and Technology Center 137

Ancient Medicine is a course that surveys Western medicine from its origins to its transformation in the Scientific Revolution. How did people cope with illness, disease, and dying before the development of modern medicine? How did people in ancient and medieval times regard health and healing? What can we learn about the limitations of our own medical theories and practices by examining the historical foundations for modern Western medicine? This course gives particular attention to the medical writings of Hippocrates (5th c. BCE), Galen (2nd c. CE); material traces how Western medicine developed from its ancient roots, and how Christian and Arab-Islamic thinkers and practices affected its development.

Clifford RobinsonClifford Robinson, PhD, is an assistant professor of classics whose current book project treats the Latin consolatory literature of Cicero, Seneca, and Boethius. In these works, the authors offer therapeutic advice for extreme grief caused by personal loss, using philosophical argument and literary artifice to help their readers manage their emotions.

The Nuclear Age
3 to 5:50 p.m.
IPEX 108

Understanding today’s global conflicts might begin, some argue, with understanding of the historical roots of the nuclear age. This course grapples with the issues surrounding the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan in 1945, and then examines how both Japan and the U.S. have represented those events in film. The post-Cold War legacy affects our relationships with nations across the globe, including Iran, Pakistan and India, and North Korea.

Kevin MurphyKevin Murphy, PhD professor of history and chair of the Department of Humanities, teaches courses that offer students both a deeper understanding of history while expanding a student’s sense of global awareness. His third book, Inside the Bataan Death March: Defeat, Travail and Memory was published in 2014. He has traveled widely, and has visited more than forty countries, many in Asia. He has received grants to attend faculty development seminars in China, Vietnam and India, and he spent four months teaching in Thailand. He has circumnavigated the world twice on the University of Pittsburgh’s “Semester at Sea” program, teaching Asian history as the ship visited numerous ports. He lived in Japan for four years and has returned many times.

Wednesday, March 21

The Culture of Latin America
11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
Glasser Hall 203

See class description above.

Thursday, March 22

Acting and Scene Study
9:30 to 10:50 a.m.
Women’s Club Room, Whitecar Hall

Students perform scenes from classic plays as they explore fascinating questions: Is the actor an interpreter or simply a mimic? Should one play a role according to the author’s intentions? Are intelligence and individuality hindrances to “becoming” a character? We will explore the art of the stage from ancient Greece to the present day, and think about how the problem of interpretation defines the actor’s profession and the culture of celebrity. Recently, students in this course were invited to “perform” as patients to medical students.

The current research project of Jeff Brown, PhD investigates the influence of 19th-century British actors upon the development of modernist literature. At USciences, Dr. Brown teaches a range of courses in literature and theatre, including tragedy, science fiction literature, and the multidisciplinary inquiry course, time.


Stay tuned for more events this semester hosted by the USciences Student arts communities (and supported by the Misher Festival of Fine Arts and Humanities): the USciences Arts Club first annual art exhibit, The Elixir publication party, and more!

2018 Misher Visiting Professor of Humanities Lecture

About Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD (Pharmacology)

Danielle OfriFaculty, Medical Humanities Department, New York University School of Medicine

Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, is an associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine; her clinical home is at Bellevue Hospital, the oldest public hospital in the country. Her newest book is What Patients Say; What Doctors Hear, an exploration of how refocusing the conversation between doctors and patients can improve health outcomes. Dr. Ofri writes regularly for the New York Times about medicine and the doctor-patient relationship. Her essays have also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the Lancet. Her essays have been selected twice for Best American Essays and also for Best American Science Writing. She is the recipient of the McGovern Award from the American Medical Writers Association for “preeminent contributions to medical communication.” Dr. Ofri’s popular TED Talks include “Deconstructing Perfection” and “Fear: A Necessary Emotion for Doctors.”


Christine Flanagan 


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