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Ghost Pain: Caregiving, Documentary, and Radical Empathy

A Book Discussion with Leslie Jamison
March 19th, 2015
1:00 PM


Leslie Jamison, New York Times-bestselling author of The Empathy Exams joined us on Thursday, March 19 at noon in 011 Old Chem in conversation with Jehanne Gheith, Associate Professor of Slavic and Eurasian Studies, MSW and Lauren Henschel, Duke senior and documentary photographer.

Gheith and Henschel brought Jamison's work into conversation with their respective disciplines in an exploration of how we document, inhabit, and care for the pain of others.

Henschel’s photos were also be on display at FSP for viewing in advance and during the discussion, beginning Wednesday, March 4. 

Jamison also gave a public talk on Wednesday, March 18 as part of a new visiting writers series organized by The Kenan Institute for Ethics and the Center for Documentary Studies. For more information:

Leslie Jamison

Novelist and Essayist

Leslie Jamison is an American novelist and essayist. Her work has been published in Best New American Voices 2008A Public Space, and Black Warrior Review. She attended Harvard University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and undertook a Ph.D. in English literature at Yale. Jamison's first novel, The Gin Closet, was published by Free Press in 2010. Jamison's second book, The Empathy Exams, an essay collection published by Graywolf Press, debuted in April 2014 at number 11 on the New York Times bestseller list. The book received wide acclaim from critics, with The New York Times writer Olivia Lang saying, "It’s hard to imagine a stronger, more thoughtful voice emerging this year."


Jehanne Gheith

Duke University

Jehanne M. Gheith is both an Associate Professor and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. As a professor, her work has been mostly on Russia and mostly about issues having to do with memory, social justice, and narrative (research topics have ranged from nineteenth-century Russian women writers to interviews with survivors of the Gulag to her current project on Russian hospice). As a hospice social worker and bereavement counselor, she works with families and patients to negotiate the tricky territory of a terminal diagnosis and how to live as richly as possible with the time remaining. Currently, she is figuring out how these two careers can best work together: she teaches courses in end of life care issues at Duke, and is seeking other ways to bring lively discourse on these issues to campus (through performance, art, practitioners’ talks, and other kinds of conversations).

Lauren Henschel

Duke University

Lauren Henschel is a senior at Duke University studying Visual Media Studies, Documentary Film, and Cultural Anthropology. She is a passionate documentary artist with holistic cinematographic skills accentuated by her ability to portray stories in an empathetic way and positively impact the lives of others. As a filmmaker and photographer, her experiences include producing films of high profile artists for Myspace, documenting the lives of the Miskito Indians in Nicaragua, and creating a documentary about a young woman’s battle with cancer that was prominently featured by influential non-profit organizations such as Stand Up 2 Cancer. Her current body of work, Indelible, which was previously displayed at Carnegie Hall, is an art installation piece combining still images, audio narratives, and video footage to present anonymous stories of individuals with scars and the manifestation of that pain on the human body. In addition to her success in the documentary field, Lauren was one of the founding members and current co-editor-in-chief of The Bite, Duke’s premiere food publication.