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…

Hopes and Fears in The #HiddenCurriculum

As I walked to the library one morning this week, I could tell that the campus was beginning to fill with the inevitable buzz of students returning for the fall semester. I felt a rush of expectation and excitement, and I was reminded of the powerful and subtle feelings that academic rituals can evoke. And…

Comedy Conflicted: The Dual Nature of Humor in “The House of God”

James Belarde “Comedy is a tool of togetherness. It’s a way of putting your arm around someone, pointing at something, and saying, ‘Isn’t it funny that we do that?’ It’s a way of reaching out.” -Kate McKinnon In 1978, Samuel Shem published The House of God, a scandalous novel centered around the lives of several…

In the Silent Land of Pain

“All I ask is not to have to change cell, not to have to descend into an in pace, down there where everything’s black, and thought no longer exists.”[1] These words, at once suffering and troubling, are these of the French writer Alphonse Daudet, who died of syphilis in 1897. La Doulou, a collection of fragments…

The Complicated History of the Visual Analog Scale: Part 2

Gabi Schaffzin // Last month, I introduced the Visual Analog Scale and began to trace its history back through the 20th century. I ended with the suggestion that use of the VAS was made necessary by the ways in which pain trials changed in a post-Beecherian world. Pain researchers adopted the VAS from the world of…

Materializing James Barry’s Archive

Jessica Kirwan // Stories about Victorian surgeon James Barry encourage a re-examination of our own limitations in understanding gender and sex. In fiction and non-fiction, Barry’s transgender body has prompted discussions about the ideologies thought necessary for societal acceptance of non-traditional bodies practicing medicine.

Upcoming Conference: Neurodiversities

A CHCI Medical Humanities Network / Duke Health Humanities Lab@FHI Symposium: NEURODIVERSITIES // Oct. 26-27, 2018, Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke University // The term “neurodiversity,” first popularized by the autism community, challenges the pathologization of neurological deviation from a conventional social spectrum of “neurotypicality.” Another branch of “neurodiversity” discourse challenges the abstraction of the ideas…

Translating Medicine Part I: Introduction

Roanne Kantor // We’re rounding out the first year at Synapsis. It makes me want to come full circle, to re-approach the very first questions I asked in this venue: about the nature of interdisciplinary research on health and medicine, and the shared language we develop to make that research possible. The thing about this “department…

Call for New Writers

Editors // We are pleased to invite new writers to contribute to Synapsis: A Journal of Health Humanities in 2018-2019. Synapsis is an online publication designed to bring together humanities scholars and students from across institutions and disciplines in a “department without walls.” The site is founded and edited by Arden Hegele, a literary scholar, and…

Time, Perspective, and Minta’s Brooch

Sneha Mantri Narrative medicine is a critical and practical approach to medical humanities grounded in the close reading of creative works, and by extension, the clinical encounter. As a physician trained in narrative medicine, I am frequently asked by colleagues whether the chosen texts must be medical. The answer, of course, is that they need…

Medical Interventions, Suddenness and Finding A New Normal

Kristina Fleuty // I have approached most of my posts for Synapsis during this academic year with a view to relating medical and health humanities topics in some way to veterans or the military experience. For my final post this year, I return to Harry Parker’s contemporary novel, Anatomy of a Soldier, aspects of which…