UMass Amherst Nursing Professor to Discuss How Art, Literature and Illness Teach Compassion

AMHERST, Mass. - Jeanine Young-Mason, professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts, will deliver the first lecture in the 1998-99 Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series Wed. Dec. 9 at 4 p.m. in Memorial Hall. The talk is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the lecture.

Young-Mason’s lecture is titled "Capturing ‘Fugitive Truth’: Finding What Textbooks Can’t Teach." She will discuss how the study of art, literature, and autobiographical accounts of the experience of illness bring essential knowledge to the health care professional’s education and practice, knowledge that Young-Mason says is unobtainable in ordinary textbooks.

Specifically concentrating on her research on compassion, she will illustrate her argument with selected works of motion picture director Akira Kurosawa, sculptor Auguste Rodin, and novelist Leo Tolstoi, plus accounts from her book, "The Patient’s Voice: Experiences of Illness."

Young-Mason says: "These works of sculpture, literature, and cinematic art deeply affected my own understanding of suffering and my hearing of patients’ actual voices." Young-Mason writes a regular column titled "Nursing and the Arts" in "Clinical Nurse Specialist: Journal for Advanced Nursing Practice."

Her research has been widely published in the nursing literature and other scholarly periodicals. In addition, she has published three books on the theme of compassion, two of which are being translated into Japanese. She is currently at work on her next book "Chronicles of Practice: Nurses and Physicians," which introduces contemporary autobiographical accounts of rural and urban practitioners.

Young-Mason was selected as the School of Nursing’s Outstanding Teacher for 1998. She serves on the UMass Arts Council and numerous department committees and task forces. As a participant in the Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series, Young-Mason will also receive a Chancellor’s Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the campus on individuals for exemplary and extraordinary service to the University. The award will be presented at the reception following her talk.

Prior to joining the UMass faculty in 1985, Young-Mason was a clinical nurse specialist on the consultation-liaison nursing service at Massachusetts General Hospital and also a clinical instructor at Tufts University School of Medicine. She was inducted into the prestigious American Academy of Nursing in 1994.

Young-Mason’s professional affiliations include Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, the Society for Education and Research in Psychiatric Nursing, and the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, for which she has presented her work and conducted workshops. She is also a member and has served as president of the Executive Board of the Nursing Archives, Special Collections, Mugar Library, Boston University.

Young-Mason recently gave the 1998 Kemble Lecture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has received funding for her research from the University, Sigma Theta Tau, and the Kittredge Fund at Harvard.