Distributed March 16, 2001
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Mary Jo Curtis



2001 Sheridan Lecture

Author Samuel Shem to speak on medicine and literature April 4
Novelist Samuel Shem (a pseudonym for Stephen J. Bergman, M.D.) will speak on “Fiction as Resistance: Healing in Hard Medical Times” at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, 2001, in the Salomon Center for Teaching, located on The College Green. This ninth annual Harriet W. Sheridan Literature and Medicine Lecture is free and open to the public.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Stephen J. Bergman, M.D., who writes under the pen name Samuel Shem, will deliver the ninth annual Harriet W. Sheridan Literature and Medicine Lecture at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, 2001, in the Salomon Center for Teaching, located on The College Green. He will speak on “Fiction as Resistance: Healing in Hard Medical Times.”

Writing as Shem, Bergman is the author of several best selling and critically acclaimed novels and plays, including The House of God, his highly praised first novel, and its sequel, Mount Misery, as well as his most recent book, Can We Talk?

The House of God, a black comedy about medical internship, has sold more than 2 million copies and was named by the British journal The Lancet as one of the two most important American medical novels of the 20th century. His plays include Room for One Woman and Napoleon’s Dinner. He and his wife, Janet Surrey, are co-authors of Bill W. and Dr. Bob, a play about the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Bergman is also a clinical instructor in psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and director of the Bill W. and Dr. Bob Project in the Division of Addictions. An affiliated scholar at the Stone Center at Wellesley College, he is co-director of the Gender Relations Research Project, which specializes in working with boys and girls in elementary and middle schools.

The lecture will be followed by the première performance of Hospitale Rossini by the Waking Dreams Dance Company, choreographed by BetheAnne Deluca Verley, M.D., and Donald Acevedo. The dance is “a visual satire that captures the current madness of the business of medicine,” said Lynn Epstein, M.D., associate dean of medicine in the Brown Medical School and organizer of the annual Sheridan Lecture.

A public reception and book signing will follow the lecture in the Salomon Center lobby.

The Sheridan Lecture offers the community nationally recognized speakers who explore the writings of physicians, narratives from patients and families, and stories of mental illness. Past lecturers have included novelist William Styron, poet physician Dannie Abse, and Suzanne Poirier, editor of Literature and Medicine, among others.

Harriet W. Sheridan, who died in 1992, was dean of the College and professor of English at Brown. The Sheridan Lecture, which honors her, is the first endowed lectureship in literature and medicine at a medical school.

“Harriet believed that it shouldn’t be necessary for a doctor to become ill or have a family member be ill in order to understand what it’s like to deal with illness,” said Epstein.

This year’s lecture is being dedicated to Martha Smith, a retired staff writer and columnist for The Providence Journal.

“Martha’s courage and grace in the face of serious illness inspire us and teach us the consummate lessons about life,” said Epstein. “We want to thank her for her tireless voice in our community, for helping us understand different perspectives, and for helping us maintain our sense of humor and balance.”

The lecture is free and open to the public. For further information, call (401) 863-1140.

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