Austen, Expectations, and Crips in the World

Pasquale S. Toscano // I’ve been reading a great deal of Jane Austen lately, which is odd, because I’ve never considered myself a fan of the grande dame of English letters. All of her plots are so damned predictable, and well—how shall we put this—quaint. And then there are those maddeningly handsome gentlemen and far-too-fetching…

Coffee with Colleagues: Arden Hegele & Rishi Goyal

Synapsis Editors Arden Hegele, PhD, and Rishi Goyal, MD, PhD (Left to right): Dr. Loren Wolfe, Professor Eileen Gillooly, Dr. Rishi K. Goyal, Dr. Arden Hegele together in the Grande Salle at Columbia Global Centers Paris in June 2019. Arden Hegele, PhD, teaches at Columbia in the Medical Humanities and in English and Comparative Literature….

Gut Check: A History of Bowels and Brains

Timothy Kent Holliday // In recent years some scholars have argued that the gut microbiome, perhaps as much as the brain, defines the condition of humanness (Moore, Mathias, & Valeur 1). Communication between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system is referred to as the gut-brain axis. Gut flora sometimes figure in how scientists…

Pain is complex. We should treat it that way.

Steve Server// “What sort of pain is it?” Often, when health care providers inquire after patients’ pain, we get a sort of flummoxed look.  In response, we sometimes get a confused chuckle. As first year medical students, we are trained to differentiate sorts of pain: crampy vs. electrical/burning; dull vs. sharp; localized vs. radiating.  As our medical…

Cultivating Life After Death

Avril Tynan // “Death is not an event in life,” wrote philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in the early 20th century, “We do not live to experience death” (6.4311). Of course, Wittgenstein could not know that 100 years later we would be living through a pandemic, but if Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is that death…

a mature defense

Michelle Munyikwa // “The secret source of Humor is not joy but sorrow.” — Mark Twain, as quoted in Laughter Out of Place “You know, Michelle,” my senior resident said, in that didactic tone of voice that educators often use when they are about to drop some wisdom, “humor is a mature defense.“ We had…

Confronting the Consequences of a Single Story

Sara Press// Every person pictured has consented to having their portraits shared publicly. In 2009, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a TED Talk on “The Danger of a Single Story.”[1] In her talk, Adichie advocates for the importance of storytelling, but cautions against homogenizing complex humans and situations into a single narrative. She explains, “The…

Airborne Imaginaries

Emily Waples // This month, the CDC published an update to its coronavirus guidelines, acknowledging the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, even at distances greater than now-sacrosanct six-foot radius. The revision was radical only in its belatedness, affirming well-established scientific evidence of aerosol transmission. Occurring on the heels of an April 30 update to the WHO…