Grief and the Medical Humanities

Diana Novaceanu // The ultimate goal of all art is relief from suffering and the rising above it. (Gustav Mahler)  One sunny day, towards the end of March, I suffered the loss of someone very dear to me. It had not been unexpected; I had the privilege to say good-bye in person. Everything medically possible…

How to Talk to a Doctor (as a woman)

Tianyuan Huang // Reviewing recommendations on how to see a doctor from a women’s health journal in 1911, this essay explores physician-patient communication and what the distribution of responsibilities and powers tells us about a health culture in its fast evolving historical context.

Following the Recipe: Scale, Crisis, and Revisiting Vaccine Rejection in Montreal’s Last Smallpox Epidemic

Gabrielle McLaren // Smallpox arrived in Montreal for the last time in February 1885 and caused 3,164 recorded fatalities after the city failed to control the virus’s spread. Municipal authorities even suspended vaccination campaigns after scandalously—and embarrassingly—administering a botched vaccine. The subsequent rejection of the vaccine by the city’s French-Canadian population would become the key…

Health on the (newspaper) margins

Madeleine Mant and Johanna Cole // The recent conservation and digitization of prison admission records from Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP) and its predecessor, the courthouse jail, have made available a rich dataset for historical, sociological, and anthropological research regarding crime and punishment in the long 19th century in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Our research…

How We Teach How We Die

Emily Waples // This year—the most difficult year of my professional and personal life to date—I inherited a class called “How We Die.” Offered as part of my college’s Biomedical Humanities major, as well as fulfilling an “ethics and social responsibility” requirement for our general education curriculum, this four-credit course met for two hours twice…

Gay Men and Lesbians, Alcohol Addiction, and the 1970s

John A. Carranza // In 2018, I wrote a piece on Oliver Sipple, the gay man who foiled an assassination attempt on President Gerald Ford. In the aftermath of that attempt, Sipple’s life, including his sexuality, became public. In the years since he stopped the assassination his drinking had increased, which exacerbated some of the…

Viral Health Myths: Social Media to the Rescue?

Sam Allen Wright // I’ve always been afraid of my deodorant. Ever since I started using it—always a deodorant and antiperspirant combination—the fear that I’m going to get breast cancer has lingered in the back of my mind. Of course, this fear was never enough to get me to stop using deodorant. As an active…

Prosody

Nitya Rajeshuni // “I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”1 — Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need…