CHF 2013: Animal

Rebecca Skloot: Creatures Great and Small

Rebecca Skloot’s debut, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, was the rarest of feats: a medical thriller culled straight from the archives of 20th-century oncology. Powerful, moving, and illuminating, the bestseller established a major new voice in creative nonfiction. What comes next for this gifted storyteller? It turns out to be animals, a topic near and dear to Skloot: before becoming a science writer, she spent more than a decade working as a veterinary technician in animal shelters, vet clinics, emergency rooms, research labs, and even an animal morgue. Those experiences, and the ethical questions they prompted, are at the center of her next book. Join Skloot, 2010 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize winner, for a sneak preview of her research, which promises to upend our understanding of the role animals play in our lives.

Skloot will be joined in conversation by Katie Watson, assistant professor of Medical Humanities & Bioethics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

This program is presented in partnership with Time Out Chicago.

Speakers and Performers

Rebecca Skloot

Rebecca Skloot is an award-winning science writer who contributes to the New York Times, NPR, and numerous others. Her first book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, took eleven years to write and instantly became a runaway bestseller. It is being made into an HBO film produced by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball.  She lives in Chicago, where she’s working on her next book on the roles animals play in our lives.

Katie Watson

Katie Watson is an attorney, an assistant professor in the Medical Humanities & Bioethics Program of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, and a member of the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Ethics Committee. Watson is also on the faculty of The Second City. She has integrated disciplines by creating seminars for medical students such as “Playing Doctor: Improvisational Theater for Doctor/Patient Communication” and “Gallows Humor in Medicine.”

CHF Suggests      Related links and resources for further study

Leaders And Thinkers

Rebecca Skloot
Biography and official website

Good Reads

How She Writes
The Daily Beast talks to Rebecca Skloot about her process of research and writing
Creature Comforts
Rebecca Skloot's 2008 NYT Magazine story about the expansion of therapeutic and service animals

Online Resources

Henrietta's Tumor
The RadioLab episode about Henrietta Lacks's cancer cells and her family's search for her life beyond medical research [audio]