The Bucket Course on April 17, entitled “Graphic Storytelling: Medical Comics and the Patient Experience” featuring Professor Maria Tapias


We often think of comics as children’s entertainment, but comics can also be a powerful tool to educate and communicate experiences to readers. The Bucket Course on April 17, entitled “Graphic Storytelling: Medical Comics and the Patient Experience” and featuring Professor Maria Tapias, will explore a relatively new application of the technique.

The course will take place from 10:00 to 11:30 am on Wednesday, April 17 at Drake Community Library. The course is open to all and free of charge, though donations are welcome to cover the cost of refreshments.

Professor Tapias will explore the growing field of Graphic Medicine, a study at the intersection of art, health, and storytelling.  Exploring the illness experience and the medical professions through graphics, medical comics have multiple audiences including patients, caretakers, and medical professionals. And they have many uses: to increase empathy among doctors and health care practitioners; to give voice to the patient experience—providing comfort, guidance, and support to those newly diagnosed with physical ailments, mental health disorders, or disabilities; and to serve as educational tools.  Medical comics also grant keen insights into the “culture” of biomedicine, language and power dynamics, health inequities, and the cultural constructions of illness.

Professor Tapias will describe the development of a course she teaches at Grinnell College in collaboration with Tilly Woodward (Curator of Academic and Community Outreach at Grinnell College) entitled “Graphic Medicine: Reading Medical Comics Anthropologically.” The course embodies the liberal arts by combining medical anthropology, ethnographic methods, and comic production.

Maria Tapias is a professor of cultural and medical anthropology at Grinnell College.  She has conducted research on women’s health and emotions in Bolivia and Spain and is currently exploring the use of comics as a medium to tell the stories of Latino patients in Iowa.

Members of the sponsoring Community Education Cooperative include Unity Point Health Grinnell, Grinnell College, Drake Community Library, Grinnell-Newburg School District, Grinnell Area Arts Council, Mayflower Community, Grinnell Education Partnership, Read to Lead, Grinnell Historical Museum, Grinnell School of Music, LINK, and Iowa Valley Community College.

Videos of previous Bucket Courses are available on the YouTube channel Grinnell Community Education