On Cloth Masks and the History of Cleanliness

Julia Dauer // Cloth masks have become passé in this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.  With masks mandates mostly gone and high-quality disposable masks widely available to those who wish to use them, cloth mask sightings have become increasingly rare.  In the early days of the current pandemic, with supplies of N95 masks extremely limited…

“As if that ever works”: Herbal Abortifacients in “Bridgerton”

Julia Dauer // In the first season of Neflix’s period fantasy Bridgerton, Marina Thompson enters the kitchen of the wealthy house in which she is temporarily living, rummages among the jars shelved along the far wall, and brews herself an herbal tea.  This scene memorably depicts an attempted herbal abortion, and Marina’s subsequent arc includes…

Seasonal Time, Variant Time: Pandemic Futurity

Julia Dauer // Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists have speculated about whether cases will ebb and flow in seasonal patterns.  Just this week, NPR released a podcast episode about the anticipated intersections of flu and COVID-19 in the U.S. this winter.  The episode encapsulates the collision between two conflicting ways of conceptualizing illness: seasonal time…