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…

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…

Vampire Dearest: Maternal Bodies and the Female Vampire

Livia Arndal Woods // Consider Bram Stoker’s Lucy in her vampiric form: she holds a small child “strenuously to her breast.” Once the virginal victim of nocturnal bedroom attacks, Lucy is now a sexualized threat striking a monstrously maternal pose. The child is not Lucy’s baby but her meal. Nonetheless, this gothic scene is suggestive…

A social and scientific history of hormones

Kathryn Cai // In her forthcoming book Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything (June 2018), Randi Hutter Epstein faces a daunting challenge in charting the history of hormonal science from the late nineteenth to the twenty-first century United States. Beginning with the freak shows of the 1890s, which Epstein…

Can Art Save? Liberal Humanism, Empathy, and the “Use” of Creativity — Part III

Sneha Mantri // This is the last in a 3-part series examining the “usefulness” of creativity through the lens of Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 novel Never Let Me Go. Part 1 contextualized the students’ art as a manifestation of Romantic tropes; Part 2  took on the climactic, Gothic confrontation between the students and their former headmistress. This final section…

Hints to Mothers, 1837/2018

Livia Arndal Woods // Last month, there was some popular coverage of a recent article in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology. Nathan S. Fox, MD’s “Dos and Don’ts in Pregnancy: Truths and Myths” frames its intervention as evidence-based common-sense pregnancy-best-practices in an “age of the internet” in which women are “bombarded” with more information…