Each year, the co-directors of the InFocus program select a book related to the upcoming year’s InFocus theme. All incoming first-year students are required to read the book and submit an assignment prior to their arrival on campus in the fall as part of the First Year Writing Seminar (FYWS) Program.
The chosen book is The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde with forward by Tracy K. Smith.
Purchase at Moravian University Bookstore or a retailer of your choice.
The Cancer Journals, by Audre Lorde
During the 2021-22 academic year, the Moravian University community will explore the topic of health and justice through our InFocus program. We will consider the ways in which emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, social, physical, spiritual, and occupational factors impact our individual and collective experiences with health (and wellness) in the past, present, and future. This year’s first-year reading selection, Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Journals, is a classic touchstone text in the Medical/Health Humanities. In The Cancer Journals, Lorde foregrounds the intersections of race, poverty, and healthcare inequality that negatively impact the health of people from marginalized communities.
Audre Lorde was a poet, essayist, novelist, librarian, and activist. She served as New York State’s Poet Laureate from 1991-93 and received fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts in 1981 and 1990. Lorde dedicated her work to social advocacy for all women, regardless of race, sexual orientation, or class.
Lorde’s illness narrative focuses on the need for women to speak about their experiences and reject the silencing that continues to harm them individually and collectively. As we continue to face the effects of COVID-19 and witness its devastating and disparate impacts on the communities Lorde advocated for, The Cancer Journals serve as a primer for how we might constructively change our healthcare systems for the benefit of all. The following statistics offer a larger framework for our community to consider as we begin our investigation of health and justice.
- Approximately 1 in 8 women (13%) will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their lifetime and 1 in 39 women (3%) will die from breast cancer. (American Cancer Society)
- In 2021, an estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 49,290 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. (BreastCancer.org)
- In women under 45, breast cancer is more common in Black women than white women. Overall, Black women are more likely to die of breast cancer. (BreastCancer.org)
- For additional statistics and supplemental readings see InFocus Supplemental Reading document linked here.
A core approach of both InFocus and FYWS is that faculty across disciplines can engage with themes, writing, and reflection through their specific knowledge domain. There are FYWS classes in a variety of fields of study, which leads to robust discussion across campus regarding health and justice as students, faculty, and writing fellows engage with the summer text and annual theme from myriad perspectives.
Over the 2021-2022 year, InFocus will continue the conversation about health and healthcare access by hosting events and providing opportunities for all students, faculty, staff, and the broader community to engage with these issues.
First-Year Writing 2021 Summer Assignments
InFocus/FYWS Kickoff Event - Thursday, September 23, 2021, at 6:00 pm
Bethany Hamilton, Director of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, is scheduled to speak to our campus community about health equity and social justice. More details coming soon.