Former SOJC professor Jon Palfreman to talk about life with Parkinson’s for 2016 PageTurners workshop

Jon PalfremanStory by Margaret Connors

Jon Palfreman — author, professor emeritus of journalism and former KEZI Distinguished Professor of Broadcast Journalism at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication — will be discussing his novel “Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson's Disease” for the UO SOJC’s annual PageTurners workshop. Members of the wider Eugene community are invited to attend his free public talk at 4 p.m. on Nov. 19 in the Knight Library Browsing room on the UO campus.

Led by the SOJC’s James N. Wallace Chair in Journalism Peter Laufer, the PageTurners workshop is a two-credit SOJC class that engages students in the close reading of a book that focuses on diversity and culture. Enrolled students meet three times with Laufer to discuss the book before attending a final master class taught by the author. The workshop culminates in Palfreman’s public reading and an invitation-only dinner for Palfreman, Laufer and workshop students.

“This course is unique. Students get the opportunity to have the luxury of time to read a book thoroughly and closely, and then we work as a cohort coming up with what we want to learn from the author,” said Laufer, who has hosted the PageTurners workshop for the past six years.  “It’s a spectacular opportunity that gives the students a chance to develop their own skills based on what they learn from the author we bring in regarding reporting, researching and writing.”

“Brain Storms” deals not only with the status and history of Parkinson’s but also Palfreman’s personal experiences as someone who has been diagnosed with the disease.

“In ‘Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson's Disease,’ I chronicle how scientists have labored to crack the mystery of what was once called ‘the shaking palsy,’ from the earliest clinical descriptions to the cutting edge of molecular neuroscience, while at the same time including a profoundly personal investigation into my own struggles and those of others living with Parkinson's,” Palfreman said.

“Brain Storms” has been well received by readers and critics alike. Palfreman also published an op-ed in The New York Times about what he has learned about Parkinson’s, and Scientific American published a Q&A with him.

Margaret Connors is a senior studying advertising with a concentration in photojournalism. This is her first year interning for the SOJC Communication office. Previously, she was an intern for The Big Issue SA, for which she traveled around South Africa finding stories and learning about the industry. She is eager to create ethical, authentic and passionate work to share with the world. You can follow her on Instagram @marge.elizabeth and view her work at