Adult event
Shahd Al Shammari: How Literature Saved My Life

Shahd Al Shammari: How Literature Saved My Life

Date/Time: Saturday 4 February 2023 13:30-14:30

Venue: 4th Floor Conference Room 10, Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, Al Jaddaf - Dubai

Language: English

Session No: 240 

What would it be like to fall asleep one night, and wake up the next morning with a debilitating illness that transforms your identity and the outcome of your life forever? That is what happened Shahd Alshammari, who woke aged 18 to find her body completely numbed by Multiple Sclerosis, with her life changed to that of a disabled person living with chronic pain.

Shahd’s  account of learning to come to terms with her unpredictable condition, Head Above Water, takes us through her low points and triumphs, bearing her soul as she struggles to understand and accept it. It’s also a reflection on illness and the stories of other women whose lives have been similarly affected, highlighting how these women have not only had to fight against the illness, but also for acceptance by a society that rejects anything and anyone that is different.

Shahd says the one thing that ‘kept me alive, kept me going’ was her passion for literature. Literature, she says, opens the mind to possibilities and realities we may not always have felt connected to, providing us with a lens to examine ourselves and our environments. In this talk she draws comparisons with characters in literature who have been judged because of their disability, or may have inspired others because of it. She believes literature gives us the opportunity to question our assumptions of what is normal, what makes us think we are better than others, and what we really value.

Shahd Alshammari is Assistant Professor of Literature at the Gulf University for Science and Technology, Kuwait. Her first collection of short stories is Notes on the Flesh, which deals with disability and gender in the Middle East.

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