Curiosity and Reading

I think when a person is curious while reading a scholarly article, it allows one to be open minded to the subject in question.  If one wishes to learn they will be more subjective to an idea if they are curious and open minded about it. In Rita Charon’s “Narrative Medicine: A Model for Empathy, Reflection, Profession and Trust”, Charon starts off by telling a story about a woman’s body crippling illness, and how it was genetically passed down to her son. The introduction makes the reader sympathize with the patient, and then makes the response from the doctor (author) more engaging when you fully understand the effects of “narrative medicine” (the listening of a story). As you read through the article the author made me curious about how narrative medicine works, and the multiple uses of them. While reading this article my curiosity allowed me to be open minded and want to explore further on this topic.

Voluntary Vulnerability

While watching two TED talks by Anne Hallward(, and Dr. Rita Charon (, a question was raised; why does narrative matter? Both Hallward, and Dr. Charon talk about how the sharing of stories acts as a therapy, and a way of healing. Hallward talks about shame in the sense that shame can lead to external and internal shaming and fear. However, if we talk about that shame, we can then use it to not only heal ourselves, but to create social change. Shame acts as the intersection between psychological healing and social change. Sharing our own shame with others helps break down the societal image of the taboo. For example, not long ago mental illness was considered taboo and wrong, so those who suffered, suffered alone and silence because they had shame for their illness. But once we started talking about it, we were able to raise awareness and break down that stigma, and eventually create social change. Today mental illness is more openly talked about and better understood, leaving people to feel less alone and shameful about their illness. Dr. Charon takes a slightly different approach. She talks about the importance of narrative medicine. That the power of listening to ones story can allow someone to heal psychologically. Not only can sharing your story help someone else, but listening to someone else’s story can help them heal internally.

Gee and Me

In Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics: Introduction , James Paul Gee talks about how our Primary and Secondary Discourses shape who we are. I then related this to literacy narratives that myself, and my peers have written. However, I wanted to take this concept deeper, so I asked the question: How can Literacy save a life? In my last post I explained this question and then dissected it, explaining that the way you interpret the meaning of “saving a life” could bring you to many different conclusions to this answer. However, for now I will attempt to use Gee, and his use of Discourse to support and complicate my question. Gee states “Our primary Discourse constitutes our original and home-based sense of identity”. I think this is an interesting point relating to my question because if one’s primary discourse either supports or doesn’t support their literacy, I think it can effect how we perceive literacy in the future. For example, if a child is raised in an environment that positively promotes reading and learning literacy, they will most likely associate literacy with positive emotions and feelings later in life. Compared to a child who is raised in an environment that shames or doesn’t support literacy, they will most likely have negative opinions towards reading and writing, throughout their entire life. This difference in primary Discourse can mean a world of difference in the effectiveness of literacy being able to “save a life”. With this said, Gee also states that one can only move from one discourse to another through an apprenticeship. Respectively, I think this is true from a literacy standpoint. As I was reading through my peers literacy narratives, I found that students who had been defeated by literacy at a young age, had trouble and negative relationships with literacy in school as they got older. But, all it took was one good teacher or “mentor” to change their minds on literacy, and in turn they were able to enter the Discourse of positive feelings towards literacy.