The Head of a Dog or Horn of a Rhino: Meaning, Milton, and Me

[H]e reproaches me with want of beauty and loss of sight: “A monster huge and hideous, void of sight.” … [B]ut he immediately corrects himself, and says, “though not indeed huge, for there cannot be a more spare, shrivelled and bloodless form.” It is of no moment to say any thing of personal appearance, yet…

Life, Death and Grief in the Garden: Some Literary Roots

Avril Tynan // In Plant Dreaming Deep, May Sarton’s journal of her life in rural New Hampshire, the author describes her decision to buy a house in the USA following the deaths of her parents. The home(s) she once knew in Europe—in England, France, Belgium and Switzerland—no longer felt like home and, in the marriage…

Coffee with a Colleague: Physician, Author, and Educator, Jay Baruch, MD

Sarah Berry // This interview series features educators, scholars, artists, and healthcare providers whose work is vital to the growth of the health humanities. On Thursday, May 12, I interviewed Dr. Jay Baruch about his forthcoming essay collection Tornado of Life (MIT Press, August 2022), as well as medicine, narrative, and the role of writing…

Prosody

Nitya Rajeshuni // “I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”1 — Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need…

From Jane Austen to Chatbots: Using Conversation to Judge Intelligence

Naomi Michalowicz // Chatbots, those little pop-up virtual assistance you encounter at the bottom of every page on every website of every company, who cheerfully ask “what can I help you with?”, are not as smart as we’d like them to be. Often frustratingly obtuse, the virtual assistant is incapable of answering your questions or…

Let’s Play a Game: Imagination in a Narrative Medicine Workshop

Avril Tynan // In 2010, Martha C. Nussbaum published Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, a manifesto on the importance of arts and humanities education for social and political life. The role of critical thinking in global education policies is being undermined, she argues, by an emphasis on rote learning and the promotion…

Seasonal Time, Variant Time: Pandemic Futurity

Julia Dauer // Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists have speculated about whether cases will ebb and flow in seasonal patterns.  Just this week, NPR released a podcast episode about the anticipated intersections of flu and COVID-19 in the U.S. this winter.  The episode encapsulates the collision between two conflicting ways of conceptualizing illness: seasonal time…

Why We Tell Stories

Nitya Rajeshuni // “Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one…