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…

The Theater of Medicine: Inchbald’s Animal Magnetism

After graduating in May, I had the unexpected opportunity to contribute to an ongoing digital humanities initiative at the University of Pennsylvania. Headed by my former dissertation advisor, Michael Gamer, and Digital Humanities Specialist, Scott Enderle, the Penn Playbills Project makes use of the understudied archive of over 6,000 playbills housed in The Kislak Center…

Vampire Dearest: Maternal Bodies and the Female Vampire

Livia Arndal Woods // Consider Bram Stoker’s Lucy in her vampiric form: she holds a small child “strenuously to her breast.” Once the virginal victim of nocturnal bedroom attacks, Lucy is now a sexualized threat striking a monstrously maternal pose. The child is not Lucy’s baby but her meal. Nonetheless, this gothic scene is suggestive…

The Curious History of Sleeping Through the Night

Arden Hegele // “Do you have the guts to sleep train?” my pediatrician asked me at my baby daughter’s two-month well visit. The practice, Tribeca Pediatrics, is, I think, the only one in the world to recommend sleep training as early as eight weeks–a controversial stance that I hadn’t appreciated when signing up. (At 34…

Natural Causes, Part 2: The Missing Gym-Goers

Josh Franklin // In Natural Causes, Barbara Ehrenreich gives a withering critique of the wellness movement, from mindfulness to fitness and preventative medicine. In Part 1 of my review, I examined the way that Ehrenreich focuses on the inevitability of death to counter the moralistic optimism of healthy living and its fantasy of ultimately coming…

The Complicated History of the Visual Analog Scale: Part 1

A few hours after knee surgery, a nurse or doctor might come into your room and ask how you’re feeling. They might show you a scale of 6 faces like this: Maybe a notched line like this: Or, they might show you this line. It will probably have two phrases on it: The practitioner speaking…