Sarah Leavitt

Sarah Leavitt

Cartoonist and Lecturer
Creative Writing Program, The University of British Columbia

Dates of Visit: November 21 – 25, 2019

Purpose of Visit

During her visit to CHES, Sarah will be meeting with CHES faculty and others to learn more about medical education innovation, and to explore ways in which comics might be used to enhance students’ learning and resilience.


Sarah has created and taught comics classes in the UBC Creative Writing Program since 2012, from small workshops for graduate students to large lecture classes open to all undergraduates. Sarah is particularly interested in how studying and creating comics can benefit all students, from dedicated cartoonists to those who use comics as a tool for brainstorming and problem solving.

Sarah’s graphic memoir Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother and Me, is widely considered to be a core text of the growing “comics and medicine” or “graphic medicine” field. (For more information, see Besides being nominated for the Writers’ Trust and other literary awards, Tangles is used in humanities and health curricula around the world, and was recently included in an exhibit about comics and medicine at the National Library of Medicine. Tangles has been translated into French, German and Korean, and is currently in development as a feature-length animation.

Inspired by colleagues who have developed classes in comics and health at American universities, over the past year Sarah has been in discussions with faculty in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and other disciplines about the possibilities for this type of education at UBC. Studying comics about medical issues can enhance understanding of health conditions and treatments, anatomy, and other necessary topics for health students. Creating their own comics can help students develop empathy for patients and cope with the high-stress experience of medical education. Sarah is excited to continue exploring how UBC can tap into this exciting field during her time at CHES.