November Narrative Medicine Rounds with Sarah Schulman

"The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) 1987-1993," a talk with Sarah Schulman about her book and the history of ACT UP and American AIDS activism.

For November's Narrative Medicine Rounds we were honored to welcome Sarah Schulman, author of Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993, the most comprehensive political history ever assembled of ACT UP and American AIDS activism. Based on more than two hundred interviews with ACT UP members and rich with lessons for today’s activists, Let the Record Show is a revelatory exploration—and long-overdue reassessment—of the coalition’s inner workings, conflicts, achievements, and ultimate fracture. Schulman, one of the most revered queer writers and thinkers of her generation, explores the how and the why, examining, with her characteristic rigor and bite, how a group of desperate outcasts changed America forever, and in the process created a livable future for generations of people across the world. 

Sarah Schulman suggested that, prior to the event, attendees watch the film UNITED IN ANGER: A History of ACT UP as helpful context for the talk. The film is available to Rent or Buy on Youtube, and for free on Kanopy with a public library card or university log-in.

Cover image of the book "Let the Record Show."

Sarah Schulman is the author of more than twenty works of fiction, nonfiction, and theater, and the producer and screenwriter of several feature films. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Slate, and many other outlets. She is a Distinguished Professor of Humanities at College of Staten Island, a Fellow at the New York Institute of Humanities, the recipient of multiple fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the New York Foundation for the Arts, and was presented in 2018 with Publishing Triangle's Bill Whitehead Award. She is also the cofounder of the MIX New York LGBT Experimental Film and Video Festival, and the co-director of the groundbreaking ACT UP Oral History Project. A lifelong New Yorker, she is a longtime activist for queer rights and female empowerment, and serves on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace. 

Headshot of Dr. Susan Clark Ball

Schulman was in conversation with Dr. Susan Clark Ball, a graduate of the Narrative Medicine Masters’ program and Assistant Director of the Bernbaum Unit, Center for Special Studies, at New York Presbyterian Hospital. She has worked as a clinician caring for patients with HIV/AIDS for over twenty years. Dr. Ball is also the primary investigator for an NIH-sponsored K07 grant titled, "For the Sake of the Students: Enhancing the Teaching of Behavioral and Social Sciences in the Medical School". Dr. Ball received her Medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1985 and trained in Internal Medicine at the Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, NY. She also received a Masters of Public Health from Columbia University in 1990.

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, and you can watch other recent Rounds events there. You can also listen to a podcast of past Rounds on iTunes.