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.

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…

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…

The Theater of Medicine: Inchbald’s Animal Magnetism

Travis Lau // After graduating in May, I had the unexpected opportunity to contribute to an ongoing digital humanities initiative at the University of Pennsylvania. Headed by my former dissertation advisor, Michael Gamer, and Digital Humanities Specialist, Scott Enderle, the Penn Playbills Project makes use of the understudied archive of over 6,000 playbills housed in…

The Curious History of Sleeping Through the Night

Arden Hegele // “Do you have the guts to sleep train?” my pediatrician asked me at my baby daughter’s two-month well visit. The practice, Tribeca Pediatrics, is, I think, the only one in the world to recommend sleep training as early as eight weeks–a controversial stance that I hadn’t appreciated when signing up. (At 34…

The Complicated History of the Visual Analog Scale: Part 1

Gabi Schaffzin // A few hours after knee surgery, a nurse or doctor might come into your room and ask how you’re feeling. They might show you a scale of 6 faces like this: Maybe a notched line like this: Or, they might show you this line. It will probably have two phrases on it:…

Veterans, Transition and Bodily Identity

Kristina Fleuty // I wonder, does engaging in writing practices offer any health benefits specifically to the veteran population? Furthermore, if there is evidence of health benefits; does any of this evidence offer insight into how the individual comes to terms with their changing bodily and psychological identity during the transition process? I would like…

On Interdisciplinarity; or, a Response

Travis Chi Wing Lau // Following my review of Sari Altschuler’s The Medical Imagination, I wanted to continue thinking through larger questions about our interdisciplinary field and what it does. My post today responds to a recent article by Peter Salovey published in Scientific American’s June 2018 issue: “We Should Teach All Students, in Every…

Metaphor, Medical Decisions and the Military Mindset

Kristina Fleuty // How would you describe what it is like to live with an injured and chronically painful limb? How would you communicate to a medical professional your reasoning for wanting the elective amputation of that limb? I have recently been pondering how people talk about their bodily experiences, both to their friends and…

The New Woman Doctor in Sydney C. Grier’s Peace with Honour

The path from scholarship on male doctors in Victorian literature to that of women doctors was a somewhat circuitous one, the road having been laid more as a result of a growing interest in the fin-de-siècle New Woman than in literary representations of medical professionals in fiction or symbolic representations of anxieties about disease.