Katherine Gaudet is a scholar of the history of reading. She is Associate Director of the University Honors Program at the University of New Hampshire, where she is also a member of the Humanities faculty. She has published on topics including suicide, bankruptcy, and education in early America, and teaches courses on the narrative structures of topics like addiction, epidemics, and criminality. In 2015 she received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop a course called “What Is a Criminal?” and is currently editing an essay collection of the same title, forthcoming in 2022. (See more here: whatisacriminal.org.) She is also a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Saco, Maine with her husband, daughter, and son.
In the midst of New Hampshire's opioid crisis, we are far from the time when addiction was an unfamiliar and even taboo subject. Narratives of addiction and recovery have become their own genre, with familiar shapes and forms that reflect deep cultural ideas about morality, free will, and social responsibility. The popularity of such narratives has created opportunities for empathy and understanding; they have also fostered particular beliefs about how addiction and recovery work. This talk will explore some of the most common stories about addiction, providing tools for understanding on a narrative and structural level. From this foundation, we will explore whether the familiarity of some stories might create barriers to recognizing different experiences of addiction or approaches to recovery, and think about where we might find more diverse accounts to inform our understanding of and response to addiction.
New Hampshire Humanities programs are made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this these programs do not necessarily represent those of the NEH or New Hampshire Humanities.