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…

Thanksgiving, Tradition, and Ted Cruz: A Public Health Crisis

John A. Carranza // On November 21, 2020, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted the cover image of a trussed and cooked turkey with a black star immediately above it and the words “Come and Take It” below. The tweet is a take on the flag used at the Battle of Gonzales in Texas, in…

The Virus, the Market, and the Body

Bojan Srbinovski // What has the COVID-19 pandemic taught the medical humanities about the body? On Monday, November 9, the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced the encouraging preliminary findings of a COVID-19 vaccine study that suggested an efficacy of more than 90 percent. This welcome news came as a bright spot against the background of…

Locating Emotion in Our Language and Bodies

Claire Litt // Practically speaking, heartbreak is nonsensical. We know the heart is a muscle, and that muscles do not break—they tear. Yet no despondent lover has ever laid prostrate on their bed complaining of heart tears. Though it is a muscle, the heart breaks as a bone—and the fact that we say so informs…

Little House in the Hood: Save the Bees, call me Mel

Mel Maldonado-Salcedo // What’s in a Name? I was born in the 1980s, an era filled with excess. Perhaps this is the reason I have always struggled with moderation. My generation was defined by drugs, MTV, and Melissas. From grade school to high school, I was one of a few Melissas in each classroom. For this…

Medical Humanities In a Pandemic: Essential and Critical

Lakshmi Krishnan and Anna Reisman // Soon after our universities went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a medical student approached one of us to talk about Dr. Bernard Rieux, the doctor-protagonist in Albert Camus’ The Plague (La Peste, 1947). “Do you relate to him?” she asked. Rieux describes fighting the plague as an act…

Remember to forget: Pandemic research during a pandemic

Madeleine Mant // When did it hit you that COVID-19 was serious? Do you remember how you felt on March 20, 2020? Has that feeling changed? Since the outset of the pandemic in Canada, I have been leading a team of researchers examining responses to and perceptions of the outbreak. The University of Toronto, where…

The Walls Stand Witness: An Account of Intertwining Gazes

Diana Novaceanu // As a child, I had wished to paint the world in precious tints and exquisite rare tinges. Such wild notions dissipated with time, leaving me unsure of their verity. One day, I found myself immersed in an ambient of clinical white, the color palette of hallways and operating theaters, gauze wrappings, coverings…

The Ethnographer’s Dilemma: A New World Shaped by COVID-19

Steven Rhue // We are all adjusting to the realities of the pandemic. Undoubtedly, it has become the topic of numerous personal and professional discussions, as we navigate newfound challenges in uncertain times. As a student of anthropology and an ethnographer, I find myself in a world where the very foundations of generating rich qualitative…