Shannon teaches English literature, critical theory, disability studies, and literature and medicine at Missouri State University. Her graduate work in Victorian novels, nineteenth-century science, and race, encouraged her to explore intersections between dominant epistemological frames and the lived, bodily experience of human beings; subsequent work has examined essentialist theories of gender, the rhetorical constructions of health and medicine and the narrative patterns that often shape experiences of illness.
Fueled by the conviction that such an academic approach may have real-world impact on readers' understandings of self and other, she designs courses to connect text to shared human experiences, inviting personal and creative work alongside more conventional scholarship. Recent articles wed ethical literary criticism with narrative medicine toward a pedagogy that helps students' to read literary texts both more richly and with more ethical relevance to their lives. Her current project weaves patient interviews with narrative medicine theory and memoir to explore how critical examination of personal narrative may yield strategies for deeper understanding and empathy.
Why did you choose the CNP's certificate program?
I chose CNP for two reasons besides the convenience inherent in a low-residency program: first and foremost, the faculty. Having met or worked with some of them before, and being familiar with their work on narrative medicine, I was excited for the opportunity to have an extended and focused experience with people I knew to be dedicated, brilliant, and deeply interested in the same kinds of knowledge, and applications of knowledge, that excite me. Secondly, I appreciate the broad and purposeful construct of "narrative practice" as a thing we can do, across disciplines and as a way of life.
What has been your experience with low-residency education, e.g. August residency week, online sessions?
This is my first low-residency education experience. I found the on-site week incredibly rich and full, an incomparably intense and stimulating experience. I do occasionally teach online and so was frankly surprised at how effective those sessions are: the time flies, but we get a lot done and have very interesting and meaningful conversations.
What has the highlight of the program been for you so far?
Very hard to say, with the extraordinary program offered at the on-site week. Learning about the truly inspirational trauma/theater work of Jack Saul? Tackling tough ethical questions with Arthur Frank? Drawing comics with Ben Schwarz? Being surprised and delighted by insightful creative writing workshops and literary discussions? The readings for the online sessions have regularly (and dramatically) challenged and developed my thinking--a wonderful and too-rare experience for many working professionals.
How do you envision you will apply this intensive training in narrative in your life, professionally and/or personally?
It has already changed my writing, inviting me to think more interdisciplinarily, more broadly, and more purposefully about what I have to say and the ways I have to interact in the world. I am inspired as well to bring the work to my home community: a certificate program on our campus, perhaps, and/or work with healthcare professionals in the community and other groups who could profoundly benefit from a little narrative practice in their lives.