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…

Translating Medicine Part III: Interview with Colin Halverson

Roanne Kantor // What does translation mean to you? Can you talk about the way that it shapes your academic project?  The process of ‘translation’ figures centrally in my dissertation, “Individualized: An Ethnography of Translation in Genomic Medicine.” This title plays on the metaphorical extension of ‘translation’ in medical jargon, referring to the application of…

An Elegy to Breastfeeding, from Titus Andronicus to Now

Alicia Andrzejewski // I nurse my daughter for the last time. She is fifteen months old. I hear her sharp cry at 6:10, and, as my partner checks his phone, I rush to grab a glass of water and walk through our five-foot hallway to her. She stands in her crib, expectant, and offers her…

Translating Medicine Part II: Sabrina Datoo

Roanne Kantor // RK: To start, what does “medicine” mean, in the context of your work? Can you say a bit about your scholarly project? SD: The words used for medicine in my sources are the Arabic words tibb, and hikmat. The second of these has a broader range of meaning, including ‘knowledge’ and ‘wisdom’….

Hopes and Fears in The #HiddenCurriculum

Josh Franklin // 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…

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…

In the Silent Land of Pain

Benjamin Gagnon Chainey // “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…

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…