Pre-Conference Evening Public Lecture and Reception

Hospice and Palliative Medicine’s Attempt at an Art of Dying 
Farr A Curlin, M.D.

Postponed, Date TBD
Christ Church
University of Oxford

Join us for this free public event!

"Hospice and Palliative Medicine’s Attempt at an Art of Dying"


Lecture. 5.00-6.30pm
Reception. 6.30-7.15pm

Farr A Curlin, MD, is Josiah C Trent Professor of Medical Humanities in the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities and History of Medicine, and the Duke Divinity School, at Duke University. Before moving to Duke in 2014, he founded and was Co-Director of the Program on Medicine and Religion at the University of Chicago. At Duke, Farr practices palliative medicine and works with colleagues in the Trent Center and the Divinity School’s Initiative on Theology, Medicine, and Culture to develop opportunities for study and scholarship at the intersection of theology, ethics and medicine. He is interested in the moral and spiritual dimensions of medical practice—particularly the doctor-patient relationship, the moral and professional formation of physicians, and practices of care for patients at the end of life.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine’s Attempt at an Art of Dying

The institutions of hospice and palliative medicine provide a helpful alternative to the default pathway of dying in medical institutions—kept alive by technology long past any reasonable hope of recovery. By mitigating distressing symptoms, maintaining healthy functions, locating dying in the home and community, and providing both realistic information and reassuring presence, hospice and palliative medicine can create conditions that help patients to practice what in the middle ages was called ars moriendi (the art of dying). Yet, we should not mistake the death that hospice and palliative medicine can provide—a death with minimal suffering and maximal patient control—for a “good death." This mistake leads medical practitioners to undervalue the consciousness and relational presence that make it possible for patients to participate in the tasks of dying well. In this talk, Dr. Curlin, a palliative medicine physician who teaches about the moral and spiritual dimensions of medical practice, will argue that the practices of palliation should be situated within and governed by medicine’s traditional orientation to the patient’s health. So situated and governed, palliative medicine offers modest but worthy resources to help patients, as well as clergy, family, and friends, recover the practices of living well, and faithfully, in the face of death.