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Symposium events continue focus on “Journey at End of Life”
Symposium events continue focus on “Journey at End of Life”October 27, 2003Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
The Syracuse Symposium 2003: “Journeys” will hold its special focus on “The Journey at the End of Life” during the next two Wednesdays with film screenings and discussions Oct. 29 and Nov. 5.
The 2001 production of “Wit” (HBO Films) will be presented on Oct. 29 at 7:15 p.m. in Kittredge Auditorium, located in Huntington Beard Crouse Hall. The screening will be followed by a discussion led by Robert Moss, artistic director of Syracuse Stage, and Dr. Joel Potash, associate professor at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University’s Center for Bioethics and Humanities.
On Nov. 5, the 1996 production of “Letting Go; A Hospice Journey” (HBO Films) will be shown at 7:15 p.m. in Kittredge Auditorium. This screening will be followed by a discussion led by Potash and the Rev. Thomas V. Wolfe, dean of Hendricks Chapel.
Adapted from Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Wit” chronicles the personal awakening of a longtime literary scholar Vivian Bearing (portrayed by two-time Oscar-winner Emma Thompson), who learns the importance of simple human kindness when faced with the most daunting of crises-a diagnosis of advanced cancer.
Vivian is a 48-year-old professor specializing in the forbidding work of 17th century metaphysical poet John Donne. With biting humor, Vivian approaches her illness as she would one of Donne’s sonnets, aggressively probing and intensely rational. However, over the course of eight months of high-dose chemotherapy, and several flashbacks to her childhood and teaching years, Vivian sees many of the smug assumptions about her life and legacy explode in the face of her growing dependency on others.
“Letting Go” tells the stories of three hospice patients: Ralph, a 62-year-old Californian who was backpacking only weeks before and is now in a rehabilitation center, partially paralyzed with a fatal brain tumor; Anna, 46, dying of lung cancer and believing that prayer will cure her; and 8-year-old Michael, who lies comatose on his broken family’s living room couch, in the final stages of an incurable brain disease.
The Syracuse Symposium, presented for the University by The College of Arts and Sciences, is an annual intellectual festival celebrating interdisciplinary thinking, imagining and creating. The 2003 theme is “Journeys:” journeys of exploration and discovery, intellectual journeys, mythical and artistic journeys, migrations of peoples, exiles, liberations, pilgrimages and more. The series includes lectures, exhibits, performances and other special events.