Laughter Part 2: Is It Safe To Laugh Yet?

James Belarde // “It seems to me that you can know a man by his laughter, and if from the first encounter you like the laughter of some completely unknown person, you may boldly say that he is a good man.” -Fyodor Dostoevsky, in Notes from A Dead House “A woolly mammoth and a saber-tooth…

Archiving the Sick Body

Cristina Robu // Defining the body as a “political archive,” the philosopher Paul B. Preciado calls it “somathèque”[1] (French for “somatic chronicles”): a registry of power-relations, cultural constructs, events, drives, and narratives or, as Preciado puts it, a “living archive of political fictions.”[2] Through this lens, we might understand the sick body as a site…

Laughter Part 1: Which Came First, The Language or The Laugh?

James Belarde // “He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” -Rafael Sabatini, in Scaramouche Have you ever been to a party hosted by a three-month-old baby? Neither have I, but wonder what that might look like? Maybe some formula milk mocktails and mashed peas laid out…

A Rhetorical Shift in Television Representations of Medicine

Amala Poli // A noticeable discursive turn in attitudes toward the medical enterprise has captured different television and talk shows. A recent Netflix show Diagnosis, already reviewed in Synapsis, is a documentary take on medical mysteries that are crowd-sourced for various diagnoses, inviting the participation of experts and patients alike in solving what appear to…

“Mirror Work” and the Epidemic Imaginary in New Queer Cinema

Jenelle Troxell // In the closing image of Todd Haynes’ 1995 film Safe, Carol White gazes deeply into the mirror, softly voicing the words, “I love you. I really love you. I love you,” as the camera pushes slowly towards her. While the inward tracking promises access to Carol’s interiority and her direct address to…

Calling Medical Humanities Teachers!

Livia Arndal Woods // This is my last post as a regular writer for Synapsis. It has been such pleasure to participate in this growing community over the past two years. That participation has allowed me to explore a broad range interests in the Medical Humanities, interests that reach through and beyond my Victorianist scholarship….

Bentham’s Auto-Icon

Lesley Thulin // Jeremy Bentham, one of the founders of modern utilitarianism, has an old saw about pushpin. In The Rationale of Reward (1825), a treatise on the legislation of discipline, Bentham invokes the nineteenth-century tavern game to weigh the relative virtues of recreational activities and art. Framing the issue in the terms of his…

Part I: Political Pregnancies in the Italian City States

Claire Litt // In early modern Italy, there was enormous pressure on noblewomen to produce healthy male children. The security of ruling families’ lines of succession (and the political stability of the city-states they ruled) were often precariously dependant on the reproductive health of only one or two women who married into each family. For…