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University of Iowa News Release

Release: April 16, 2003

Ida Beam Visiting Professor To Discuss Literature, Medicine

Suzanne Poirier, Ph.D., professor of literature and medical education in the department of medical education at the University of Illinois-Chicago College of Medicine, will give two free, public lectures during her visit to the University of Iowa as an Ida Beam Visiting Professor April 23-25.

Poirier will present her lecture, "The Canary in the Mine Shaft, and Other Uses for Literature in Medicine," from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 23 in Theatre B of the Theatre Building on the UI campus. A public reception will follow Poirier's talk.

She will discuss "The Literary Nature of Medical Dialogue and Implications for Clinical Ethics" from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, April 24 in the Ziffren Conference Room (Room 1502, John Colloton Pavilion) of UI Hospitals and Clinics.

Poirier has been teaching students in all fields of the health professions and humanities since 1980. Her research has examined the writing of physicians, pharmacists and nurses; portrayals of illness and medicine in literary and historic documents; and the ethical, political and social dimensions of narrative discourse. She has written and edited several books, including "Writing AIDS: Gay Literature, Language and Analysis;" "Literature and Medicine: Women and Health;" and "Stories of Family Caregiving: reconsiderations of Theory, Literature and Life."

Poirier served as editor of the journal Literature and Medicine for several years, and she is the founder and faculty editor of Body Electric, a student-edited literary arts journal now available on the Web at

Poirier's visit is co-sponsored by UI Office of the Provost, Program in Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities, History of Medicine Society, department of English, department of women's studies, Office of Student Affairs and Curriculum of the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, Parent, Child and Family Area of Study of the College of Nursing, and the Project on the Rhetoric of Inquiry.

Her activities at the UI are supported by the Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorships Program, which brings outstanding scholars to the UI campus for residencies ranging from a few days to an entire academic year. A native of Vinton, Iowa, Beam willed her farm to the UI in 1977. Proceeds from the sale of the farm were used to establish the visiting professorships program in her name. Since 1977, hundreds of eminent scholars and scientists have visited the UI campus to give public lectures and to meet with students and faculty.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the program in Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities in advance at (319) 335-6706.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

CONTACT(S): David Pedersen, (319) 335-8032,