Jehanne Gheith, “Still Alice, Always Elena: New Stories about Dementia"
Friday, March 19, 2021 - 9:30am to 11:00am
Please join the Franklin Humanities Institute for its Friday morning series, tgiFHI! tgiFHI gives Duke faculty in the humanities, interpretative social sciences and arts the opportunity to present their current research to their departmental (and interdepartmental) colleagues, students, and other interlocutors in their fields.
I am both a professor of Russian literature/culture and a former hospice social worker; I now have a small private practice in psychotherapy/grief counseling. My clinical work is deeply informed by my life steeped in Russian literature. This talk explores how that training in Russian story helped me in my work with a hospice patient with dementia. My talk compares Ulitskaia’s "The Kukotsky Case” and Genova’s “Still Alice” to show how story can shape how we work with, understand, and live with dementia. Ulitskaia is a prize winning Russian author; Genova is better known here in the U.S. The comparison, along with an analysis of Janelle Taylor’s work on dementia, allows us to see the possibilities of story for working with and living with people who have dementia.
The basic premise of my talk is that the work of understanding stories and learning how to listen to stories and learning to hold difficult stories is important in the world. I really want to talk with you all about that and hear your thoughts on that— the talk is an opening, I hope, into that larger conversation.
Jehanne Gheith is Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature and Chair of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at Duke University. Formerly a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Duke Hospice, she now has a private psychotherapy and grief counseling practice. As of January 2021, she co-directs the Franklin Humanities Institute Health Humanities Lab.