Arthur W. Frank

Arthur W. Frank, FRSC

Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, University of Calgary (retired) (Calgary, AB); Professor II, VID Specialized University (Oslo, Norway)

April 27, 2017

Arthur W. Frank works at the intersection of narrative ethics, narrative medicine, and narrative therapy. His writing revolves around questions of the self, the self’s possibilities of experience, and how selves encounter suffering. He has addressed these issues primarily through the study of illness experience. The core of his university teaching was sociological theory, and his research has at different times involved phenomenology, conversation and discourse analysis, and most recently what he calls socio-narratology. He is most interested in stories and storytelling as bases of how individuals know the world, how persons affiliate into groups, how action is understood as moral or ethical, and how relations of conflict develop and might be mediated.

Dr. Frank received his MA in Communications from the University of Pennsylvania and his PhD in Sociology from Yale University. He taught at the University of Calgary from 1975 until his retirement in 2013. Since retirement, he has been Professor II at VID Specialized University in Norway and has taught at the Center for Narrative Practice in Boston.

Dr. Frank is the author At the Will of the Body (1991, new edition 2002), a memoir of his own critical illnesses; The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics (1995, second edition 2013), The Renewal of Generosity: Illness, Medicine, and How to Live (2004); and Letting Stories Breathe: A Socio-narratology (2010). These books have been translated into multiple languages. He is the author of many scholarly articles, and was for several years book-review editor of Health: an Interdisciplinary Journal. Among his editorial board appointments, he is a Contributing Editor to Literature and Medicine.

Dr. Frank has been a visiting fellow in bioethics at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. He has been visiting professor at the University of Sydney, University of Central Lancashire, Keio University in Tokyo, and University of Toronto.

Dr. Frank has received awards including the Natalie Davis Spingarn Writer’s Award from the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (USA), the Abbyann Lynch Medal for Bioethics from the Royal Society of Canada, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Bioethics Society. He is an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of The Hastings Center (USA).

Role: Panel Member
Report: Medical Assistance in Dying (December 2018)