USC Upstate Hosts Literature and Caregiving: Building a Culture of Care

April 6, 2018 at 9:44 am

From serving as a companion to providing health care or emotional support, being a caregiver can be an overwhelming responsibility. But what or who defines the role of a caregiver?

The University of South Carolina Upstate will look at Literature and Caregiving: Building a Culture of Care from 7-8 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, 2018 in the Sansbury Campus Life Center Ballroom, 180 Gramling Drive, Spartanburg.

The free workshop, led by George Williams, Ph.D., an associate professor of English at USC Upstate, will look at examples of caregiving in literature and is open to both professional and family caregivers in the Upstate.

“Caretaking is often undertaken privately and invisibly,” said Celena Kusch, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Languages, Literature and Composition at USC Upstate. “And, often that role is thought of as the person who keeps a patient safe or attends to their physical needs. We hope this workshop will help caregivers to think beyond that, and focus on the care of the whole person and on the care of the caregivers themselves.”

Kusch said characters in literature, while fictionalized, portray power, strength and strong human connection.

Over the past few months, Williams has been working with a group of caregivers from the Charles Lea Center in Spartanburg and helping them to forge connections between the works of literary and disability studies scholars and their own work with clients at Charles Lea Center. The caregivers have been reading and discussing works like “Midwives” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.”

“Dr. Williams and I brainstormed about what a caregiver superhero might look like, but not every situation is the same,” Kusch said. “We want to give our participants stories that will not only help them focus their care, but also to help them deal with the pressures of being a caregiver.”

Kusch said through the workshop discussion she hopes that caregivers will leave with a  greater recognition of what it is they do for others and that it empowers them to share their stories with others.

“There’s power in being able to share an experience,” Kusch said. “There are lessons learned that can provide strength and encouragement, whether caring for a young child or someone progressing through the stages of Alzheimer’s, to keeping someone comfortable through traumatic injury or their final days.”

This workshop is sponsored by the Division of Languages, Literature and Composition, the Charles Lea Center, and the South Carolina Humanities Council. The mission of South Carolina Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. This not-for-profit organization presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that reach more than 250,000 citizens annually. South Carolina Humanities receives funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as corporate, foundation and individual donors.  It is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state.