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…

A Few Thoughts on EVE: Danger, Desire, and Reproductive Control

Livia Arndal Woods // The possibility of divorcing reproduction from the maternal body fascinates and haunts the human imagination. The dangers of and desire for such separation – for ectogenesis – has been of particular interest in science fiction. Indeed, the oxforddictionaries.com definition of ectogenesis reads: “(chiefly in science fiction) the development of embryos in…

Feminine Pain: Review of “Literature and Medicine,” Part 2

Cynthia Harris // This is my second post inspired by the articles in the recent issue of the literary journal “Literature and Medicine.” In her article “Authenticity and Fashionable Disease in Eighteenth-Century Britain,” Jessica Monaghan quotes Lady Dainty, a character in Colley Cibber’s The Double Gallant or, the Sick Lady’s Cure: “tis betraying our [female]…

The Politics of Outing and AIDS Activism in the 1980s

  John A. Carranza // “Archibald Anson Gidde, a prominent San Francisco realtor and social leader, died Tuesday at his home in Sea Cliff after a bout with liver cancer. He was 42./Mr. Gidde was a witty and flamboyant figure who distinguished himself by spearheading some of the City’s most notable real estate transactions…/A member…

A social and scientific history of hormones

Kathryn Cai // In her forthcoming book Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything (June 2018), Randi Hutter Epstein faces a daunting challenge in charting the history of hormonal science from the late nineteenth to the twenty-first century United States. Beginning with the freak shows of the 1890s, which Epstein…

Natural Causes, Part I: Risk, Ritual, and the Critique of Wellness

Josh Franklin // In Natural Causes, Barbara Ehrenreich offers a wide-ranging critique of the culture of wellness. From preventative care and exercise to positive thinking and mindfulness, Ehrenreich sees these modern health practices as futile attempts to experience some sense of control over the inevitability of death. But worse, she argues, they are based on…

Theorizing the Web, Theorizing the Body

Gabi Schaffzin // Towards the beginning of her talk at Theorizing the Web 2018, Alanna Reyes asks, “is it possible that we are perpetuating ides about our bodies and our technologies that we use by writing them into our real lives?” The scholar (a PhD in Science Studies & Communication at UC San Diego) goes…

Postpartum Exhaustion in William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Now

In William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale (ca. 1609-11), Hermione is dragged to court by her husband, King Leontes, a few days postpartum to defend herself against accusations of infidelity. Imprisoned on these charges during the late stages of pregnancy, Hermione gives birth to her daughter, Paulina, in a jail cell. Once in court, Hermione pleads against Leontes’s “immodest hatred” with eloquence and rhetorical skill reminiscent of Shakespeare’s earlier courtroom heroines (3.2.100).

AIDS and the (Social) Experience of Disability

Benjamin Gagnon Chainey // Hervé Guibert was a prolific French writer who died from AIDS in 1991. Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of the magazine Elle, suffered a massive stroke that left him locked in his body.  With the help of his speech therapist, Guibert wrote The Diving Bell and the Butterfly entirely by blinking one eye….

The Medical Woman in Victorian Fiction and Her Service to the Empire

Jessica Kirwan // At the end of the nineteenth century, the medical woman was simultaneously progressive and traditional. As one of the first women professionals she helped elevate the importance of women to healthcare, and her distinctly feminine qualities helped her save lives. Perhaps most importantly, however, she helped promote the British Empire.

“For your own good”: Health as moral value and political weapon

Andrew Godfrey // The focus of World Health Day 2018, which took place last Saturday, was on ensuring universal health coverage. Whilst the UK is often lauded as being superior to our American counterparts for having a universal healthcare system, closer scrutiny reveals that this is not always the case. More than this, it is…

Metaphor, Medical Decisions and the Military Mindset

Kristina Fleuty // How would you describe what it is like to live with an injured and chronically painful limb? How would you communicate to a medical professional your reasoning for wanting the elective amputation of that limb? I have recently been pondering how people talk about their bodily experiences, both to their friends and…