Johanna Shapiro smiling with teal blouse and navy blazer in front of book case
The Distinguished Lecture in Medical Humanities is an annual event that brings to UCI accomplished scholars, clinicians, and creative artists to share insights and contribute to on-going conversations about health, healing and well-being. Launched in 2015, these stimulating public lectures have addressed topics as varied as the politics of pain and pain management, poetry and the experience of illness, and critical care and the nursing profession. In addition to a lecture that is free to the public, visiting distinguished lectures also add to the educational experience of undergraduates, graduate students, and graduate students in the various health science professions in workshop and seminar settings.

On December 1st, 2020, Johanna Shapiro, Director, Program in Medical Humanities & Arts, Family Medicine, and Professor Emeritus, Family Medicine, UCI School of Medicine shared how familial illness and physicians’ responses shaped her life in her lecture, “Stories of Sickness: Listening Narratively to Co-Construct New Understandings About Illness.” Dr. Shapiro discussed how illness experiences disrupt and sometimes break our life narratives; why it can be so hard for doctors to really hear patients’ illness stories; how narrative listening can address this shortcoming; and how patients and doctors can learn to co-construct better stories together, in the process discovering mutual healing. At the end of her lecture of a group of over 300 registered attendees, Dr. Shapiro warmly answered questions in her trademark gentle style, imparting her insight as to why it is so important to understand the whole patient.
Past Distinguished Lectures
  • Karen Nakamura, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Berkeley Disability Lab and the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Disability Studies at UC Berkeley, “Disability and the Promise of Technology”
  • Rita Charon, Professor of Narrative Medicine at Columbia University, “To See the Suffering, to Lend the Care: How Humanities and the Arts Transform Medicine”
  • Theresa Brown, RN and New York Times Best Selling Author, “The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives“
  • Rafael Campo, Poet and Professor of Medicine at Harvard University, “Matters of Life and Death: Poetry and the Experience of Illness”
  • Keith Wailoo, Professor of History at Princeton University, “Pain: A Political History”