Mini-symposium to prescribe a healthy dose of humanities

When Carolyn Bame showed up at the Flagstaff Medical Center with her harp in hand, the double amputee patient she had come to visit looked up at her and said, “I was hoping you would come. The pain is so terrible today.”

Linda Stedman also visits Flagstaff Medical Center. She uses her photography skills to take photographs of cancer patients, helping them to come to terms with their illness.

Bame, a certified music practitioner, along with Stedman and others in the fields of art, literature, music, history, ethics and philosophy have discovered that the arts and humanities play a big role in health and healing.

Artists, scholars and medical practitioners will convene at the Healing and Humanities Mini-symposium, from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 14, at NAU’s Ashurst Auditorium.

“This meeting will show the public—and the health-care providers, scholars and artists that serve them—how their physical health and well-being can be improved by approaching medicine through the humanities and arts,” said Jean Boreen, professor of English and associate dean of the College of Arts and Letters. “Our goal is to show how music, art therapy and literature, as well as a historical perspective on health care, can influence wellness and contemporary medicine.”

Presentations will include information on writing personalized poems for terminally ill patients and how the reading and discussion of literature can improve patient care.

The symposium will feature a keynote lecture, “The Power of Ambiguity in Healing,” by Donna Swaim, clinical lecturer of the University of Arizona’s Medical Humanities Program.

For information, contact Tamara Ramirez at or (928) 523-0499.