Addiction is perhaps the most significant, highly public and intractable social problem of the decade, and it has hit especially hard in Massachusetts. The problems associated with it are complex, and while people from many different fields have weighed in, we see a unique role for the humanities to play in addressing these problems. Historians have written transnational histories of the U.S. drug markets and philosophers have explored the ethical status of addictive states, the moral obligation of societies to those suffering from addiction, and the role that societal structures play in fostering addictive behaviors. But no humanities field has been more directly engaged with the subject of addiction than literary studies. Some of the greatest Anglo-American literature—in memoir, poetic, dramatic, and prose form—is fundamentally concerned with addiction. The humanities fields offer original insights not only into the more obvious social stigma associated with addiction, but the much harder-to-define subjective experience that has such profound implications for treatment and policy. The forum seeks to more fully integrate work by humanists into the thinking of the medical community and governmental officials who are on the front lines in addressing these problems.
Friday, October 12, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, October 13, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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