Charlotte Researcher Explores Ideas About Death With “Stories from the Dead Zone”

Thinking about death can be terrifying, or at least unsettling. One way we conquer our fear is by telling stories. Storytelling also gives death meaning and significance, as is often seen in the creative works of scholars, artists, writers and philosophers.

At the next UNC Charlotte Personally Speaking series talk, on Tuesday March 28, UNC Charlotte expert Christine S. Davis will consider how ideas of death are constructed, using narratives drawn from real life and fiction. Davis particularly will turn to research from her book End of Life Communication: Stories from the Dead Zone, which she co-authored with retired UNC Charlotte Professor Jonathan L. Crane. Using a medical humanities narrative approach, Davis considers how ideas about death are constructed through films and in a hospital setting, and how the arts inform medical ethics and care. 

The 7 p.m. talk and reception at 6 p.m. are open to the public at no charge, but reservations are requested. Davis will answer questions about her research and her book, published by Routledge Press. Books will be available for sale at the event, at Byron’s South End, 180 W. Worthington Ave., Charlotte.

Christine S. Davis

Davis is a Charlotte emeritus professor of communication studies. She has written many books and journal articles about end-of-life communication, and has been trained as an end-of-life doula. Over her career, she has taught courses in health and medical humanities, end-of-life communication, healthcare narratives, body politics, gerontology and research methods.

Davis is an autoethnographic, poetic and aesthetic ethnographer. She uses critical, contemplative and arts-based methods to understand health contexts, specifically in the areas of women and children’s health, end-of-life communication and family disability. She studies people with illnesses and conditions that are incurable as they face revisions in their personal identity and narrative and negotiate the liminal spaces between ‘well’ and ‘unwell,’ alive and dead, and power and marginalization.

Her most recent book, The Personal is Political: Body Politics in a Trump World (2020, Brill-Sense), was co-edited with Crane and is a narrative exploration of bodies affected by contemporary politics. Davis is currently writing a book about her experience conducting research at University College Cork, Ireland, where she was a Fulbright Scholar. While there, she gave public lectures and studied the historical Magdalene Laundries and the Mother and Baby homes to understand their influence on Irish identity and on her own Irish heritage.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, a master’s degree in communication studies from UNC Greensboro and a doctoral degree in communication studies from the University of South Florida.

All Personally Speaking published experts series events are hosted by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, with The Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte Center City and J. Murrey Atkins Library. During these community talks, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences faculty engage audiences in conversation about their research findings and describe the personal motivations for writing their books. The presentation may be recorded.

The event venue for this talk is across from the Blue Lynx light rail East/West Blvd. station. If you drive to the event, the venue will validate your ticket from the Design Center Parking Garage, located at the corner of Hawkins and Doggett streets.