CANCELED: November Virtual Narrative Medicine Rounds with Saidiya Hartman

“Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments,” a talk by author and professor Saidiya Hartman

PLEASE NOTE: We are sorry to announce we have to cancel the event, as our speaker Saidiya Hartman is unable to join us due to a family emergency.

We know this may be disappointing with fewer options to connect in our virtual space, particularly in such uncertain and changing times around the world, so we invite you to join us next Monday, November 9th at 6pm EST for one of our Live Virtual Group Sessions, as an alternate opportunity to connect with narrative medicine and participants around the world in a collaborative space of engagement. To find out more information and to register, please visit our blog.

Thank you so much for your interest and enthusiasm for our Narrative Medicine Rounds, and we apologize for the last minute change. We look forward to welcoming you to our last Narrative Medicine Rounds of the year on December 2 at 5pm EST with Alex S. Vitale, who is a Professor of Sociology and Coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College and a Visiting Professor at London Southbank University. He will give a talk on “Police Violence as Public Health Threat: Exploring the Alternatives.” You can register for his talk here. We hope that you are able to join us for either or both of these upcoming events, and look forward to having you with us again in the future.



About Saidiya Hartman: She is the author of Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, and Scenes of Subjection.  MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, Hartman has been a Guggenheim Fellow, Cullman Fellow, and Fulbright Scholar. She has just been appointed to the rank of University Professor, Columbia’s highest academic honor.

Professor Hartman received a BA (1984) from Wesleyan University and a PhD (1992) from Yale University. She was a professor in the Department of English and African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley (1992–2006), prior to joining the faculty of Columbia University, where she is currently a professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. She is the former director of the Institute for Research on Gender and Sexuality at Columbia University and was a Whitney Oates Fellow at Princeton University (2002), a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library (2016–2017), and a Critical Inquiry Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago (2018). In addition to her books, she has published articles in journals such as South Atlantic Quarterly, Brick, Small Axe, Callaloo, The New Yorker and The Paris Review.

Her first book, Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America (1997), traces continuities between pre- and post-emancipation eras in the United States by demonstrating how even advocacy-oriented abolitionist rhetoric reproduced the violence and domination of the state of enslavement. She extends her analysis to the present day by challenging contemporary scholars to be wary of recirculating scenes of the violated black body.

Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (2007) is by Columbia professor Saidiya Hartman

Her second book, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (2007), combines elements of historiography and memoir in a meditation on her travels to Ghana in search of a deeper understanding of the experience of enslavement. With this work, Hartman defies the conventions of academic scholarship and employs a speculative method of writing history, which she terms “critical fabulation,” to interrogate the authority of historical archives as the singular source of credible information about the past. She revisits the primal scenes of the African diaspora—its coastal fortresses, dungeons, and hinterlands—and reimagines from multiple perspectives the case of an African girl who was murdered by a ship captain and singled out in a speech by the British abolitionist William Wilberforce in 1792. As a whole, the book dramatizes the challenge of rendering in narrative form such irreparable conditions of loss and dispossession and illuminates the ongoing consequences of these conditions in the present day.

A new book by author and Columbia professor Saidiya Hartman

Hartman’s most recent book, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (2019), is similarly inventive in its mode of presentation and immerses readers in the interior lives of young black women who fled the South and moved to Northern cities in the early twentieth century. While drawing from sociological surveys, tenement photographs, reformatory case files, and other sources, she critiques the pathologizing portrayals these official documents present and recovers stories of resistance enacted by famous women (such as Ida B. Wells) and numerous anonymous others who looked outside the bounds of the law to find kinship, intimacy, and freedom. By addressing gaps and omissions in accounts of trans-Atlantic slavery and its aftermath, Hartman has influenced an entire generation of scholars and afforded readers a proximity to the past that would otherwise be foreclosed.


Narrative Medicine Rounds are monthly rounds on the first Wednesday of the month during the academic year hosted by the Division of Narrative Medicine in the Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. A recording of our Virtual Narrative Medicine rounds will be made available following the live session on the Narrative Medicine YouTube channel. You can also listen to a podcast of past Rounds on iTunes or watch recent ones on YouTube.