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Using Tolstoy to Teach about Empathy and End of Life

April 9, 2018 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Leo Tolstoy’s 1886 novella, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, tells the story of the agonizing illness and the death of its central character. This iconic work of literature portrays Ivan’s difficult reflections about a life lived without purpose and his direct experience with suffering and mortality. The Death of Ivan Ilyich is now widely used by scholars who write and teach about provider-patient communication, empathy and care at the end of life. It is still taught in medical schools in the US today. Professor Gheith and Dr. Prose both include this novella in their freshman Focus courses, emphasizing different aspects of Tolstoy’s work. In this informal and experience-based seminar, we will invite our former Focus students to consider what they have learned from Tolstoy, and engage all participants in considering how this astounding work of literary imagination enables us to better understand the intersection of illness, compassion and mortality.


April 9, 2018
5:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Bostock Library
411 Chapel Dr
Durham, NC 27708 United States
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