Introducing Synapsis

Dear Readers, Thank you! Editing, producing, designing (and reading!) this journal has been exceptionally gratifying. We are thankful for the bright and bold writers who each week step out of the confines of their traditional disciplines. We are thankful for being introduced to new ideas, artistic works and academic texts. And we are thankful for…

Archiving the Sick Body

Cristina Robu // Defining the body as a “political archive,” the philosopher Paul B. Preciado calls it “somathèque”[1] (French for “somatic chronicles”): a registry of power-relations, cultural constructs, events, drives, and narratives or, as Preciado puts it, a “living archive of political fictions”[2]. Through this lens, we might understand the sick body as a site…

Laughter Part 1: Which Came First, The Language or The Laugh?

James Belarde// “He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” -Rafael Sabatini, in Scaramouche Have you ever been to a party hosted by a three-month-old baby? Neither have I, but wonder what that might look like? Maybe some formula milk mocktails and mashed peas laid out on…

A Rhetorical Shift in Television Representations of Medicine

Amala Poli // A noticeable discursive turn in attitudes toward the medical enterprise has captured different television and talk shows. A recent Netflix show Diagnosis, already reviewed in Synapsis, is a documentary take on medical mysteries that are crowd-sourced for various diagnoses, inviting the participation of experts and patients alike in solving what appear to…

“Mirror Work” and the Epidemic Imaginary in New Queer Cinema

Jenelle Troxell // In the closing image of Todd Haynes’1995 film Safe, Carol White gazes deeply into the mirror, softly voicing the words, “I love you. I really love you. I love you,” as the camera pushes slowly towards her. While the inward tracking promises access to Carol’s interiority and her direct address to the…

Calling Medical Humanities Teachers!

Livia Arndal Woods // This is my last post as a regular writer for Synapsis. It has been such pleasure to participate in this growing community over the past two years. That participation has allowed me to explore a broad range interests in the Medical Humanities, interests that reach through and beyond my Victorianist scholarship….

Bentham’s Auto-Icon

Lesley Thulin // Jeremy Bentham, one of the founders of modern utilitarianism, has an old saw about pushpin. In The Rationale of Reward (1825), a treatise on the legislation of discipline, Bentham invokes the nineteenth-century tavern game to weigh the relative virtues of recreational activities and art. Framing the issue in the terms of his…

Part I: Political Pregnancies in the Italian City States

Claire Litt // In early modern Italy, there was enormous pressure on noblewomen to produce healthy male children. The security of ruling families’ lines of succession (and the political stability of the city-states they ruled) were often precariously dependant on the reproductive health of only one or two women who married into each family. For…

Diagnosis: What’s Wrong with Us

Sneha Mantri // Netflix’s newest original series, Diagnosis, dropped on August 16, 2019. Each of the seven episodes is touted as a “medical mystery” to be solved through crowdsourcing. The concept is intriguing: harness the global reach of the internet to connect patients, families, and physicians, all working in concert to solve a complex case….

Dreaming and the Body in Ancient Medicine

Calloway Scott // Among the civilizations which ringed the shores of the antique Mediterranean (and beyond), it was quite well known that dreams carried with them portents of the future events. The cuneiform tablets of ancient Sumer and Assyria speak of the nocturnal intercourse of royals and gods, promising success in war. The epics of…

Hektoen Medical Humanities Writing Contest: “Blood”

The Editors // The following writing contest, sponsored by Hektoen International: A Journal of Medical Humanities, may be of interest to contributors and readers of Synapsis: Hektoen International invites you to send an essay of under 1600 words on the subject of Blood. The contest honors the achievements of the Red Cross, locally, nationally, and globally….