For immediate release
Further information: contact Joseph Giomboni
Public Relations office, (570) 208-5957

January 6, 2017 – Dr. Kate Rossiter, Assistant Professor of Health Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, will deliver the 2017 Saint André Bessette Lecture at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17, in the Burke Auditorium at King’s College. 

The lecture, titled “Microhumiliations and Practices of Pain: The Moral Perils of Institutional Organization,” is sponsored by The McGowan Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility at King’s. 

Why is institutional abuse so pervasive? Despite the magnitude of this problem for marginalized populations, institutional abuse is often explained as the product of a “few bad apples.” In this lecture, Rossiter will argue that institutional violence is not anomalous, but rather written into the DNA of institutional design. Drawing from a series of interviews about daily rituals of bodily care performed with survivors of the Huronia Regional Centre, she will explore institutional patterns that create a field of practice in which overt forms of brutality, including physical and sexual abuse, become not only tolerable but completely invisible.

In addition to the lecture, King’s will host a staged reading of “Abide with Me: A Story of Two Pandemics,” a research-based play by Rossiter and Rebecca Godderis at 7:30 p.m., on Wednesday, Jan. 18, in the George P. Maffei II Theatre, located in the Administration Building on North River Street. 

“Abide With Me:  A Story of Two Pandemics” is set in a fictional near-future in which a pandemic appears to emerge. The protagonist, Helen, is a hospitalized as health care workers prepare for the possibility of mass illness. Helen moves between discussions with present-day health care providers, who struggle with the limits of their professional duty, and her memories of living through the 1918 pandemic, in which many friends and community members were lost.  The material for this play is based on the 1918 pandemic in Brantford, Ontario.

Rossiter’s research is highly interdisciplinary and lies at the intersections of bioethics, critical social science, arts-based research practice, and disability studies. Her work fuses critical theoretical scholarship in health and bioethics with arts-based practices, including theatre and fiction. She teaches in the Community and Public Health, and Social Justice and Community Engagement programs at Wilfrid Laurier University.  

Rossiter is also the Principal Investigator on the “Recounting Huronia” project: a participatory arts-based research project in which survivors of the Huronia Regional Centre and scholars articulate lived experiences of institutionalization. She received her doctorate from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and her master’s degree from New York University.  

Saint André Bessette, the first Holy Cross Congregation member to attain sainthood, was known as a healer for his devotion to the sick and afflicted. The King’s College Student Health Center, André Hall, is named in his honor. 

The Burke Auditorium is located in the William G. McGowan School of Business on North River Street. Parking will be available in on-campus lots. For more information, please contact Dr. Bernard Prusak, director, McGowan Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility, at (570) 208-5900, ext. 5689.

Dr. Kate Rossiter