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…

Selling Stillbirth, 1569 to Now

In one of my monthly visits to the Folger Shakespeare Library this year, I called up Pierre Boaistuau’s Certaine secrete wonders of nature: containing a descriptio[n] of sundry strange things, seming monstrous in our eyes and iudgement, bicause we are not priuie to the reasons of them (1569). I was looking for a particular image,…

Life Hacks: How Non-Specialist Journalism Fuelled the MMR Scandal

Emily Wheater // Cases of measles worldwide have quadrupled in the past year. For years we have been waiting to see what the consequences of vaccine scepticism would be. Now that they are apparent, they are as unsurprising as they are alarming. The issues around why people do or do not vaccinate themselves and their…

Recording Women’s Contributions to the History of Victorian Health and Wellness

Jessica Kirwan // I recently interviewed Dr. Lesa Scholl, Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia of Victorian Women Writers, which is soon to be published by Palgrave Macmillan for their Major Reference Works portfolio. Dr. Scholl is Head of Kathleen Lumley College at the University of Adelaide in Australia. Readers of Synapsis will be interested to know…

The Classic, or Institutionalization part II

Roanne Kantor // What happens when different kinds of institutions meet? When I asked that question this winter, the answer focused on the unevenness between various types of things that get theorized very abstractly as “institutions.” Can there be any use in exploring “institutionalization” and “de-institutionalization” in both medical and educational contexts? Within this larger…

Vague Ethnography and Healthcare Access

Liora O’Donnell Goldensher // In late 2017, I began full-time fieldwork towards a dissertation about contemporary professional non-nurse midwifery in the United States, joining the practices of several homebirth midwives. I organized my multi-sited approach with an eye to various of what those in my home discipline of sociology might refer to as “axes of…

Glimpses of a Dying Mother

Benjamin Gagnon Chainey // If Death is a paradoxical mother, Ève, the dying mother of French philosopher and writer Hélène Cixous, is even more so. In her daughter’s phraseology, Ève Cixous is “a well alive dead woman” [1], coming back to life through the “Strange Autoportraits” that Hélène draws in Homère est Morte… (the English…

Pen to Paper

Gabi Schaffzin // Elsewhere, I’ve written about Henry Dreyfuss’s The Measure of Man and the Humanscale Manual, which came along soon after. Briefly, The Measure of Man is a guide for industrial designers, complete with scores of anthropometric data points. It features hundreds, if not thousands, of meticulously calculated measurements of various human bodies. To the industrial designer, engineer,…

Medicine, Myth, Fairytale: On Joanna Pearson’s Every Human Love

Lauren A. Mitchell //      On the phone, Dr. Joanna Pearson softly chuckles. “My brother sometimes asks me what ‘psychiatrist Joanna’ would ask ‘author Joanna.’” It has been a while since we’ve spoken, but she is warm and upbeat, as I have known her to be. We are discussing her new short story collection, Every Human…

Common, yet Unfamiliar: Exploring Sleep Paralysis

Amala Poli // Stillness. A dark room that looks exactly like the one in which you fell asleep. Every detail captured in the first few moments of comprehension. You are awake, or so you think in a minute. Your surroundings begin to dawn on you. But there is this overwhelming sensation of being crushed, of being…