Notes Toward an Ethics of Editorial Care

Travis Chi Wing Lau // I have lately been prompted in multiple, unexpected ways to think about the work of editing in academia. Most recently, I shared publicly that an editor advised me to avoid publishing under my full name because it risked “confusing readers” and impacting the way my work gets cited. The editor…

Notes on Spinal Catastrophism

Travis Chi Wing Lau // “It is the duty of a spine to destroy the universe; or, a spine is the universe’s method of acknowledging this duty to self-destruct.”[1] To my scoliosis, reads the dedication to Thomas Moynihan’s Spinal Catastrophism: A Secret History (Urbanomic 2019). This line alone was more than enough for me to…

The Poetics of Chronicity (review)

Travis Chi Wing Lau // Michael J. Leach. Chronicity. Melbourne: Melbourne Poets Union, 2020.             How does the temporality of chronic pain become registered in poetic form? This has long been a question that I have been pursuing in my own crip poetic project as a disabled poet living with scoliosis-related disabilities. If, per Elaine…

Against the COVID-19 Hot Take

Travis Chi Wing Lau // It is said that one of the greatest forms of academic love is when a colleague comes across a source, and they write to you to say they thought of you immediately. As someone writing about the histories of vaccine hesitancy and health insecurity, let’s just say lately I’ve been…

Field Notes from the Classroom: Interdisciplinary Teaching and Communities of Curiosity

Travis Chi Wing Lau // This morning, I had the joy of attending a workshop with the growing Science and Nature Writing initiative at Kenyon College. During this interdisciplinary conversation, we discussed different approaches to pedagogy at multiple levels of undergraduate teaching: integrating a writing component into an intermediate science course, creative writing that interwove…

On Virality, Corona or Otherwise.

Travis Chi Wing Lau // About two weeks ago, I tweeted out about a troubling experience that happened while I was riding my apartment elevator after a long day of writing and teaching. Little did I know that it would circulate so widely, that it would go viral. In the ensuing days, replies to the…

Against Medical Humanities?

Travis Chi Wing Lau // As I have wrestled with in both my review of Sari Altschuler’s The Medical Imagination and in my essays about interdisciplinarity and disciplinary difference, I remain deeply interested in the question of methodology and how we define our fields of study. Like the concept of genre, a field sets expectations:…

On the Power of Names

Travis Chi Wing Lau // Very recently, I had a discussion with the brilliant Jillian Weise about naming—in this case, how we name the condition of spinal curvature. In truth, I only recently learned the full name of my specific diagnosis: kyphoscoliosis. This is a compound term in medicine (kyphosis + scoliosis) used to denote…

Ars Moriendi

Travis Chi Wing Lau // “We’ve been wrong about what our job is in medicine. We think our job is to ensure health and survival. But really it is larger than that. It is to enable well-being. And well-being is about the reasons one wishes to be alive.” – Atul Gawande Last week, I flew…

Teaching Victorian Disability Studies

“What it must mean, if we are to be present in this age of challenges, is a profound rethinking of our pedagogical priorities, disciplinary boundaries, and subject positions. Let us actually be Victorianists.” –Christie Harner, “Victorian hybridities”[i] Travis Chi Wing Lau // As I begin to construct my syllabus for my introductory seminar on medical…