COVID-19 Special Issue: Introduction

A Letter from the Emergency Room // In early January, scientists identified SARS-CoV2 as the causative agent for a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.  The first official death from Covid-19 (the infection caused by the novel coronavirus) was reported by China on January 11.  The United States reported its first…

The Art of Dissection

Jac Saorsa: Artist-in residence// (The following is an extract from my PhD in creative writing. A work in progress!) Sweet is the lore which Nature brings; Our meddling intellect Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things We murder to dissect. Enough of Science and of Art; Close up those barren leaves; Come forth, and bring with…

Health histories from watery places: Seafaring bodies in the labour archive

Madeleine Mant // In the basement of an unassuming building on the Memorial University campus in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, lies the Maritime History Archive (MHA), curating the employment records of Britain’s Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen (RGSS). Approximately 75% of all surviving logbooks and Agreements from 1857 to 1942 and 1951 to…

Rethinking the Language of Cancer Diagnosis

Steffi Mac // Recently, I was introduced to a young doctor who had survived cancer and who is now working on Covid-19 duty. I wanted to interview her in order to present her narrative in my online initiative for cancer survivors, The Marrow Story. I was also trying to understand the health care system of…

Already Quarantined: Yes, the “Spanish” Flu was Racist Too

Salvador Herrera // After the outbreak of racialized violence against Asian communities across the world, President Donald Trump, his staff, and supporters maintained that calling the COVID-19 disease “the Chinese virus” is harmless and has nothing to do with race.[1] Their willful ignorance attributes the phrase to the supposed source of the virus. However, the…

Contagious Exhibits: Curating the Plague

Diana Novaceanu // The exhibit In Time of Plague: Five Centuries of Infectious Disease in the Visual Arts opened in January 1988 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It aimed to showcase both the “changing conventions” of illness representation and the ways in which artists dealt with “the gradual emergence of…

Narrative Humility or Empathy?

Marcus Mosley // In healthcare, there has been much debate about the role empathy plays in patient-doctor communication, and whether it can and should be taught to medical students. Narrative Medicine has “not found empathy to be a useful term” and claims empathy to be “a misguided assumption that one can enter into or know…

Moving ‘Beyond the Bikini’: Exposing the Logics of Pinkwashed Healthcare

Elena Kalodner-Martin // Introduction As of 2017, the leading causes of death for women are heart diseases, lung cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and Alzheimer’s (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). However, public discourse surrounding women’s health and illness often focuses on other conditions, such as breast, ovarian, and cervical cancers, polycystic ovarian syndrome, premenstrual…

The Ethics of Feeding Tube Placement in Patients with Advanced Dementia

Joyeeta G. Dastidar // Dementia and the Loss of Descartes’s Attributes of the Soul One of the many disease processes physicians witness is what becomes of the body of someone with advanced dementia. Over time, there is a loss of many of the “attributes of the soul” René Descartes lists in his second meditation on…

On physician advocacy

Michelle Munyikwa //  One of the first pieces I ever wrote about the practice of medicine was about vulnerability. At the time, I was concerned with how understanding vulnerability as intrinsic to care might help us communicate more effectively with patients. We might imagine how, if physicians found it easier to embody vulnerability, they could…