Christine S. Davis; End of Life Communication: Stories from the Dead Zone

Christine S. Davis, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Communication Studies

March 28, 2023

7 p.m.
Reception at 6 p.m.

Open to the public at no charge.

Byron’s South End
180 W. Worthington Ave., Charlotte, NC 28203

Located across from the Blue Lynx light rail “East/West Blvd.” station.
Parking will be validated by the venue when you present your ticket from
The Design Center Parking Garage located at the corner of Hawkins St. and Doggett St.

(Best viewed horizontally in a mobile environment.)


“If there was no end to life, life would have no value. It is the ever-present danger of losing it which helps to bring home the value of life,” said philosopher Karl Popper. Death gives life meaning, and infuses all forms of communication with heightened symbolism and significance. All of us will die, and in fact, humans are the only creatures with the foreknowledge of our own death. Understanding death has intrigued scholars, artists, writers, and philosophers throughout time. In today’s Western culture, death is sensationalized, desensitized, and mystified—today, only 30% of Americans die at home. Universally, humans are afraid— terrified—of the thought of death, and one of the ways in which we deal with this fear, and imbue death with meaning and significance, is through narrative—telling stories about death. University of North Carolina at Charlotte Emeritus Professor Christine S. Davis, Ph.D. will discuss narratives about death in real life and in fiction when she presents research from End of Life Communication: Stories from the Dead Zone, which she co-authored with retired UNC Charlotte Professor Jonathan L. Crane, Ph.D. Using a medical humanities narrative approach to understanding, Davis will explore how ideas about death are constructed through films and in a hospital setting, and how the arts inform medical ethics and care.

Christine S. Davis, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Communication Studies at UNC Charlotte, is an autoethnographic, poetic, and aesthetic ethnographer. She uses critical, contemplative and arts-based methods to understand health contexts, specifically in the areas of women and children’s health, end-of-life communication, and family disability. She studies people with illnesses and conditions that are incurable as they face revisions in their personal identity and narrative and negotiate the liminal spaces between ‘well’ and ‘unwell,’ alive and dead, and power and marginalization. She has written many books and journal articles about end of life communication, and has been trained as an End of Life Doula. Over her career, she has taught courses in Health and Medical Humanities, End-of-Life Communication, Healthcare Narratives, Body Politics, Gerontology, and Research Methods. Her most recent book, The Personal is Political: Body Politics in a Trump World (2020, Brill-Sense), was co-edited with Dr. Jonathan Crane and is a narrative exploration of bodies affected by contemporary politics. Dr. Davis is currently writing a book about her experience conducting research at University College Cork, Ireland, where she was a Visiting Fulbright Scholar. While there, she gave public lectures and studied the historical Magdalene Laundries and the Mother and Baby homes to understand their influence on Irish identity and on her own Irish heritage. Her B.A. degree in Communication is from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) and her M.A. degree in Communication Studies is from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her Ph.D. in Communication Studies was awarded by the University of South Florida in 2005.

All Personally Speaking published experts series events are hosted by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, with The Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte Center City and J. Murrey Atkins Library. During these community talks, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences faculty engage audiences in conversation about their research findings and describe the personal motivations for writing their books. The presentation may be recorded.

The author welcomes questions and comments about her book, which is published by Routledge Press Books will be available for sale at the event, or request the book from your local library. It is not necessary to have read the book before attending.