Uniting the arts with medical realities

Date published: 2008-08-18 2:15:21 PM

Linda Hutcheon is Canada’s pre-eminent literary theorist. Over several decades, the University of Toronto professor has explored postmodernist culture and critical theory, promoting a greater understanding in academic circles and society at large of modern fiction, irony, parody, adaptation and ethnic minority writing.

Hutcheon has led large collaborative projects involving hundreds of scholars— in particular the SSHRC-funded, multi-volume Rethinking Literary History. But her more recent collaborative work has been outside the literary world. With Michael Hutcheon, a medical doctor, she has written three books—and is working on a fourth—that use opera as a vehicle to examine the intersection of medical and cultural history.

They chose opera because its historical popularity makes it a telling reflection of how society, over time, regarded illness, aging and death. The projects, which have been well received by the medical and music communities, have demonstrated how particular cultural meanings accrue to diseases and to the processes of aging and dying.

Linda Hutcheon, comparative literature, University of Toronto