Digital Post by Katana Rider

I can’t believe the semester is over. I started HLTD54 with my program advisor surprised that a student with a biomedical background was taking a health humanities D level course. Through my years in UofT Scarborough, I took many science and statistic related courses that gave me a specific definition of what health is supposed to be. This course opened a different view on health which I never knew existed and showed me that health can be seen in stories or within the daily lives of people in Scarborough.

Throughout this semester I was filled with the knowledge of great artists and authors such as Daniel Tysdal, Ngozi Adichie, Chika Stacy, Catherine Hernandez, Arthur Frank and many more. I found a new approach to all forms of art and to health; where now I see health to be defined through stories told by the ill person. Our class dove into the work of Arthur Frank’s, the Wounded Storyteller; where he takes us through the three major narratives and touches upon a few new narratives in the ‘Afterword’ chapter in his book. Arthur Frank’s quest narrative was the most compelling to me, not only because my partner and I presented this as our topic, nevertheless this narrative had a closer connection to me and gave a sense of purpose to life. The quest narrative is interesting because it starts almost with a mix of the chaos narrative, where the ill person has a hard time in the beginning with their illness or body changes, then has characteristics of the restitution narrative, where the person accepts this change and finds a sense of purpose through it. This idea, from my understanding, is another interpretation when Arthur Frank mentioned the quest narrative to be ‘the master of two worlds,’ where the ill person understands the life before and after the illness or change in body (Frank, 2013). This narrative also connected to me where I found a sense of purpose in my life through, what I like to call, my invisible disease. I fought this mental debate with myself on whether I would be able to participate in sports or not due to my disease having a possibility to prevent me from playing sports. My change in perspective allowed me to find a new journey in my life, where I now am marked with this disease however, continue to find the positives through the struggles I face.

In this course we also had the opportunity to read Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez. This book allowed the class to have a better understanding of people with different lives in Scarborough and had stories that were examples to different narratives from Arthur Frank’s book. For example, Cory, Laura’s father, had a chaos narrative; where after Laura came into his life, he felt like she was disruption in his life (Hernandez, 2017). The chaos narrative follows a very similar definition where the ill person does not believe life will get better and the disease, or in this case his responsibility, is seen as interruption in his life (Frank, 2013). Ms. Hina’s story was very similar to the restitution narrative because of the issue she had with her management but was able to solve the situation and make everything better (Hernandez, 2017). The restitution narrative is a heroic event in a story when the ill person gets sick but recovers from this illness (Frank, 2013). Not only was Ms. Hina saved by poor management but was also a hero to the community; where she provided food and even Halloween costumes for the families who could not afford them (Hernandez, 2013). There were many other connections between the required readings and course concepts that this course taught. It also taught students to look closely at form and content of texts, to understand what the author is trying to portray. I also learned through this course that even the way a text organizes the words and sentences have deeper meaning than what is perceived.

This might be the end of this course lecture, but it has taught me to open another eye on health and stories in Scarborough, that makes me wonder if this is the honest end to this course. I believe I will always be learning and applying Arthur Frank’s concepts throughout my life as I listen radically to many more ill people’s stories. The doubt that my program advisor had on why I took a health humanities related D level course also rolled in my head, mainly in the beginning of this semester. I found that I was meant to take this course because I found new meaning to health in general and even my own health; especially after the final project. Through this journey, I learned through Arthur Frank’s book, that everyone is faced with a ‘shipwreck’ in their life, either through an illness or problem, and we can write our own narrative based on our actions and will power. Similar to this image below, our stories are powerful where they go beyond the page and can reach many others who resonate or need to hear your story to help their own narrative.





Work Cited List:

Frank, A. (2013). The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics (2nd Ed). Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

Hernandez, C. (2017). Scarborough. Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pulp Press.