Abstract: Disease and death are challenging to describe. They seem to be topics around which language must fail the speaker. So how do authors come to represent death in their work? In this talk, I draw on both narrative and poetry to show how authors put the impossible to describe into language, why they might do so, and what we can take away from such attempts as readers. Examples will likely be drawn from US, Russian, and Latin American  literature, and we will discuss everything from hypothermia to cancer to AIDS to COVID. Please note: as I will be commenting on literature about disease and death, it’s invariable that some in the audience might find such topics challenging–and that even the speaker might find these topics difficult. Please be aware of your limits, and practice self-care if there are areas of concern for you in this talk.

Bio: Curtis Wasson joins the faculty of Quest after having taught at Ball State University, Reed College, and the University of Puget Sound.
He began teaching Spanish language classes in 1994. He has offered advanced courses in Spanish on Spanish film; Hispanic poetry; the representation of the Roma, Jews, and “Moors” in Spanish literature and culture; Hispanic literature of violence; and the movida madrileña.  In English, he has given courses on European film; Don Quixote; testimonial literature, art, and film; and the figure of the loser in film and literature.  Curt has published on pedagogy and Spanish Civil War photography, and on photography in the work of Spanish novelist Benito Pérez Galdós. A question that he would love to explore in his future research is “How does how we see shape who we are?”


Cornerstone Evening Lecture: September 1, 2021, 7 pm,

Location: Quest University Campus, Multi-purpose Room (MPR)

Title: The Representation of Disease and Death in Literature

Speaker: Dr Curtis Wasson

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