“Leave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, which are as necessary as reading. I will rather say more necessary because health is worth more than learning.” (Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Garland Jefferson, June 11, 1790.)
Over the past two years, President Obama’s proposed health care reforms initiated an often bitter and sometimes divisive debate which, while focused on health provision, also asked fundamental questions (and exposed tenaciously held positions) about the state of the nation, its history and ideology. Our conference theme, the Health of the Nation, addresses these issues, where health can be both literal and metaphorical, personal and public, human and environmental.
The self-analysis involved in considering the health of the nation has always been a characteristic of Americans, and is an issue variously understood according to time, circumstance, and disciplinary approach. Health and the body also retain their metaphoric power in national self-awareness, while a heightened awareness of environmental health and risk is a topic of growing importance, as is the development of Recreation and Leisure Studies as an academic subject.
- Topics addressed might include:The relation between health and wealth (Emerson said “The first wealth is health”)
- The health of the individual and the health of the state; the politics and economics of health care
- The legal and constitutional dimensions of healthcare provision; the body’s health in literature and film (often linked symbolically to national trauma)
- The relation between health and healing
- Illness as metaphor
- The ideals of health communicated by the media
- Health and the environment