The Virus, the Market, and the Body

Bojan Srbinovski // What has the COVID-19 pandemic taught the medical humanities about the body? On Monday, November 9, the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced the encouraging preliminary findings of a COVID-19 vaccine study that suggested an efficacy of more than 90 percent. This welcome news came as a bright spot against the background of…

Medical Humanities In a Pandemic: Essential and Critical

Lakshmi Krishnan and Anna Reisman // Soon after our universities went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a medical student approached one of us to talk about Dr. Bernard Rieux, the doctor-protagonist in Albert Camus’ The Plague (La Peste, 1947). “Do you relate to him?” she asked. Rieux describes fighting the plague as an act…

Remember to forget: Pandemic research during a pandemic

Madeleine Mant // When did it hit you that COVID-19 was serious? Do you remember how you felt on March 20, 2020? Has that feeling changed? Since the outset of the pandemic in Canada, I have been leading a team of researchers examining responses to and perceptions of the outbreak. The University of Toronto, where…

The Ethnographer’s Dilemma: A New World Shaped by COVID-19

Steven Rhue // We are all adjusting to the realities of the pandemic. Undoubtedly, it has become the topic of numerous personal and professional discussions, as we navigate newfound challenges in uncertain times. As a student of anthropology and an ethnographer, I find myself in a world where the very foundations of generating rich qualitative…

Inhaling the field – surgery, smoke, and smells

Renée van der Wiel // Up until that morning I had spent most of my fieldwork in stuffy, linoleum-lined hospital reception areas accompanying women on their clinical treks. We would chat while waiting to hear a “NEXT!”  But before concluding my ethnography of a public breast cancer clinic in Johannesburg, I arranged to spend a…

Upon the Arraignment, Condemnation, and Execution of Elizabeth Stile, 1579

Kate Bolton Bonnici // Elizabeth Stile was executed in England for witchcraft in February 1579. In what follows, I consider an anonymous “news of the day” pamphlet about her case, using critical poetry as scholarly method. (This pamphlet is part of a larger genre of 16th/17th-century writing on witchcraft trials.) I concentrate on the description…

Covid-19: Reframing Ageing

Anne Fuchs, Desmond O’Neill, Mary Cosgrove, and Julia Langbein // Report on the Interdisciplinary Webinar, University College Dublin, 12 June 2020 Introduction The Covid-19 crisis gave rise to stories of sickness and resilience, unemployment and solidarity, death and hope.  But from among these stories, the discourse on older people has been among the most controversial…

Glossier No More: Following the Leadership of Retail Workers

Bojan Srbinovski // Things are happening at Glossier, the cosmetics giant famous for its millennial pink brand palette and its repeatedly stated goal to “democratize beauty.” A recent open letter published by a group called Outta the Gloss, a collective of former Glossier retail employees, indicates that these workers, whom Glossier calls “offline editors,” were…

Beyond Survival: Quality of Life in Oncology

Steve Server // Cancer is conceptually as well-circumscribed as a tumor feels when you palpate it under the skin during a routine exam.  Its hardness imprints itself upon your sensorium, and then upon your psyche, as you feel the burden of the unpleasant truth that must soon make itself known.  Dense, solid, almost like a…

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…