Neurodiverse Reading

Ittai Orr // In See It Feelingly: Classic Novels, Autistic Readers, and the Schooling of a No-Good English Professor (Duke Univ. Press, 2018), Ralph Savarese writes that literature is a kind of social medicine, that it represents a “way of restoring relation” (193). There is no better illustration of this power of literature—or rather, of a…

Free Indirect Diagnosis: Reading Alongside the Doctor in Middlemarch

Livia Arndal Woods // One of the techniques par excellence associated with the nineteenth-century novel is free indirect discourse, a literary device in which the cadences of a character’s interior, subjective voice are mapped onto an authoritative, third-person narrative voice. For example,”Ella thought Susan’s dress was silly” rendered in free indirect discourse might read more…

Painful Memories and Memorable Pain

Gabi Schaffzin // The following contains spoilers for Amazon’s Homecoming series. Proceed with caution. I’ve been thinking a lot about memory. This started after I recently finished bingeing on the Amazon series, Homecoming, a quick but worthwhile watch for the psychological-thriller fan in all of us. Briefly, the show, directed by Mr. Robot’s Sam Esmail,…

Embodied Post-colonialism — Part II

Sneha Mantri // In Part 1 of this essay on embodiment and postcolonial theory in VS Naipaul’s The Mimic Men, I looked at the protagonist Ralph’s relationship with his own body, which he progressively erases as the novel wears on. Here, I want to flip the lens outward and examine Ralph’s gaze on the female…

Scientific Typography

If you are a formally trained graphic designer, it’s unlikely that you have not heard of Robert Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style, most recently updated to its fourth edition in 2012. Originally published 20 years earlier, the work is filled with answers to the book designer’s common conundrums: typeface choices, page arrangements, knowledge of…

Intersex Erasure & the Myth of the “One True Sex”

Diana Rose Newby // My place was not marked out in this world that shunned me, that had cursed me. (Barbin 3) Content Warning: suicide, sexual abuse Herculine Barbin was twenty-one when she was forced to change her sex. Assigned female at her birth in 1838 in southwestern France, Barbin grew up identifying as such until…

Fevered Bodies in Early Victorian Fiction & Medicine

Diana Rose Newby // On October 24, 1840, the British Provincial Medical and Surgical Journal published a piece by physician James Eager on “continued fevers”: afflictions which he insists “more justly merit the patient investigations of observers” than any other known disease (57). What makes these maladies so difficult to diagnose or treat, according to…

Embodied Post-colonialism — Part 1

Sneha Mantri // If you pick up your favorite world literature anthology and turn to the table of contents, you’ll notice immediately that the authors are categorized with startling precision. “Here,” the editors seem to say, “are the British writers, and in this corner we have the Africans—an entire continent’s worth! — and we’ve also…

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…

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…