Want to write for Synapsis? Send us a pitch.
Meet our Editors
Rishi Goyal is Director of the Medicine, Literature and Society major in the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University, and an Attending Physician in the Emergency Department of Columbia University’s Medical Center. Dr. Goyal’s research, writing and teaching focuses on the reciprocal transformation that results when new ideas about health, disease and the body find forms of expression in fiction and memoirs. His most recent work explores the political, aesthetic, and social dimensions of the representation of physical trauma in literature. His writing has appeared in The Living Handbook of Narratology, Aktuel Forskning, Litteratur, Kultur og Medier, and The Los Angeles Review of Books among other places.
Arden Hegele is a Mellon Fellow at the Society of Fellows in the Humanities and a Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She received her PhD from Columbia in 2016. Dr. Hegele’s book in progress investigates how British Romantic literature is transformed on a formal level by the era’s medical discoveries in pathology and psychiatry. Her work has appeared in Public Books, European Romantic Review, Romanticism, Partial Answers, and other scholarly publications.
Guest Editor (Spring 2018)
Lan A. Li is a historian of the body and filmmaker, and a Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience at Columbia University. She received her PhD in Science Technology and Society Studies from the HASTS program at MIT. Her work centers on comparative and cross-cultural histories of medicine. As a documentary filmmaker, Lan has also collaborated with integrative practitioners in India, Brazil, and China. She seeks to expand these collaborations across disciplinary and geographic spaces. Lan is an alumna of the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans.
Meet our Writers
Alicia Andrzejewski is a PhD student in the English program at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She holds an MA from Appalachian State University. Her research focuses on representations of pregnancy and fertility control in early modern drama, bringing together feminist, queer, and affect theory in order to work through how “failed” pregnancies were and are imagined and understood. She is also a contributing writer for Visible Pedagogy and her essay, “Blue Roses and Other Queer Energies in Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie,” was recently published in The Tennessee Williams Annual Review.
Jordan Babando is a PhD candidate in sociology at Queen’s University. His research interests are the sociology of medical practice, sociology of emotions, and industrial health and safety. His current research is primarily focused on uncovering and grappling with the hidden emotional milieu in health care interactions. Jordan is a researcher with the Office of Health Sciences Education (Queen’s University), and a member of the Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (Laurentian University), and the acquired experiences and knowledge from these opportunities help inform his writing.
James Belarde is an MD/PhD candidate in the neurobiology program at Columbia University with a clinical interest in pediatric neurology. He began performing standup comedy in college and, since 2010, has trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City as a student in their Advanced Study Programs for both improv and sketch comedy. Since beginning medical school, James continues to perform in the city and has developed an interest in exploring the intersection between humor and medicine. He currently co-teaches an improv workshop for medical students, and his creative writing has been included in The Principles and Practice of Narrative Medicine, as well as on the front of various refrigerators owned by his mom over the years.
Lara Boyle is a neurobiology MD/PhD candidate at Columbia University with clinical interests in psychiatry and neurology. As a writer for the Yale Scientific Magazine and the online Columbia science blog, PhDish, she has covered topics ranging from the lives of sex-switching butterflies to the political landscape of research funding. Her research, which has been published in journals such as Cell, Neuropsychopharmacology, and the Annals of Neurology, currently delves into how emotions influence and subvert memories of social experiences.
Kathryn Cai is a Ph.D. candidate in English at UCLA whose research explores connections between individual narratives of illness and health and broader sociopolitical and environmental conditions. Her dissertation analyzes Asian American and Chinese literary and ethnographic narratives to consider how constructions of health suggest broadened conceptions of agency under uncertain conditions.
John Carranza is pursuing his PhD in the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin. His research interests focus on the history of medicine, disability history, and gender and sexuality in the United States. John taught survey courses on Texas, the United States, and World History at San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word before he arrived in Austin. He also spent over ten years working as a care provider and case manager for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Currently, John writes for the Faculty Fellows Seminar on “Health, Well-Being, Healing” with the Humanities Institute at the University of Texas. He has contributed entries to Great Events in Religion: An Encyclopedia of Pivotal Events in Religious History and written for UT’s public history website, Not Even Past.
Benjamin Gagnon Chainey is a physical therapist and a PhD candidate in French language literature and medicine at Université de Montréal and Universités de Paris. As a physical therapist, he is currently developing an expertise in neurology at Montréal’s Villa Medica rehabilitation hospital, mostly with patients suffering from the impacts of a stroke or fighting against a brain tumor. His MA in literature examined the caregiving relationships in the AIDS novels of Hervé Guibert. His current PhD work, supported by Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Vanier scholarships, analyzes the evolution of empathy between the caregiver and the dying patient in both 19th-century medically-inspired literature and contemporary AIDS literature. His work has been published in Muse Medusa and Fixxion, and presented at the Midwest Modern Language Association. Other creative and critical works are forthcoming in creative writing journal Mœbius, and in Interférences littéraires, Multilingual e-Journal for Literary Studies.
Dr. Anna Fenton-Hathaway is managing editor of Literature and Medicine. She earned her PhD in nineteenth-century British literature from Northwestern University, where her research focused on novelists’ responses to the social concept of “female redundancy.” She was the first graduate affiliate of Northwestern’s Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program (now the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities), and has taught seminars for first- and second-year medical students on literary closure in medicine, cultural narratives of aging, and science fiction and bioethics. Her most recent Montgomery lecture was on “Dystopia Medicine.”
Kristina Fleuty is a research assistant with the Veterans and Families Institute, at Anglia Ruskin University. She is currently assisting on the Blesma Families Study, which is a qualitative exploration into the impact of limb loss on veterans and their families. Kristina combines qualitative and literary research into the human experience through key themes of identity, transition, the impact of military life, communicating traumatic experiences, war and post-war fiction, the individual and the collective, and the relationship between the body, mind and technology. She is interested in the interdisciplinary nature of comparative world literature, specifically its interaction with the social sciences, arts and humanities. Kristina sees story as a central point of intersection between the disciplines; both literary and qualitative research approaches are used to better understand people’s experiences through what they write, what they say and the media through which they choose to tell their story. www.booksandbodiesinthebloodstream.wordpress.com
Josh Franklin is an MD/PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. His research explores gender and sexuality, childhood and culture, and mental health. He is currently working on a project that charts the experiences of transgender and gender nonconforming youth, both in care and beyond clinical spaces. In addition, as the student co-director for the Introduction to Medicine and Society course for first year medical students, he is interested in the potential for scholarship in the humanities and critical social sciences to transform the experience of medical education.
Andrew Godfrey is a PhD student in Comic Studies at the University of Dundee whose research explores the links between ritual, performance, and genre in works of Graphic Medicine. He was the principal organiser of the 2016 Graphic Medicine conference in Dundee, recipient of the 2013 Grant Morrison Prize for Comic Studies, and has self-published comics about his experiences with the chronic illness Cystic Fibrosis under the name Sicker Than Thou. He has a chapter on Bob Flanagan in a forthcoming collection on superheroes and disability to be published by Penn State Press. Twitter: @performillness
Cynthia Harris is a fourth year MD candidate at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai planning to specialize in Pathology. Her research interests include British and French literature of the 19th century, with a particular focus on the history of medicine. She has guest-lectured in the Humanities at Columbia University.
Dr. Roanne Kantor is Lecturer in Comparative Literature at Harvard University. Her current research concerns representations of health and medicine in literature from South Asia, and other areas of the Global South. Her recent scholarship appears in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East and South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. Other pieces are forthcoming in Comparative Literature and the collected volume Sounds of South Asia in 2018. Kantor has also taught at Boston University, Brandeis University, and the University of Texas, Austin, where she earned her MA and PhD.
Jessica Kirwan is a PhD candidate at the University of Florida Department of English specializing in nineteenth-century British literature about medicine and the history of medicine. Her current research focuses on the myths, metaphors, and images conjured when “resurrecting” women’s corpses in popular British literature of the long nineteenth century, and how literary resurrection served to reflect and challenge prevailing medical and imperial discourses. Jessica is also Assistant Director of Research for the University of Florida Department of Radiation Oncology where she coordinates outcomes studies and manages all publications functions for the physician faculty. In addition, she serves as Managing Editor of the International Journal of Particle Therapy, an open access peer-reviewed journal on radiation therapy.
Travis Lau recently completed his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania Department of English and will be a postdoctoral teaching fellow at the University of Texas at Austin beginning in Fall 2018. His research interests include 18th- and 19th-century British literature, the history of medicine, and disability studies. His academic writing has been published in Journal of Homosexuality, Romantic Circles, Digital Defoe, and English Language Notes. His creative writing has appeared in Wordgathering, Assaracus, The New Engagement, The Deaf Poets Society, Up the Staircase Quarterly and QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology.
Abigail Mack is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at UCLA. Abigail conducts her research in a public hospital and a mental health court in Los Angeles. There she studies the ways medical and legal professionals negotiate the grounds for involuntary psychiatric commitment. With Specializations in Psychological, Medical and Linguistic Anthropology, Abigail investigates how medical and legal languages collide as doctors, lawyers, and patients debate the ethics of involuntary care.
Dr. Sneha Mantri is a neurologist specializing in movement disorders at the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia VA. She also holds a Master of Science in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University, where she co-founded The Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine. In addition to her clinical work and research/outreach to improve the care of people with Parkinson disease, she is active in Philadelphia’s thriving narrative medicine community, with a particular focus on reflective writing as a tool to mitigate burnout and inform professional identity formation for medical students and trainees. She has presented her work at the inaugural meeting of the International Narrative Medicine Network in London, England, and at medical humanities/medical education symposia across the United States.
Gabi Schaffzin is pursuing his PhD in Art History, Theory, & Criticism with an Art Practice concentration at the University of California San Diego. His art and research consider the visual representation of pain and illness in a technologically mediated world dominated by a privileging of data over all else. His project plans center on pain measurement technologics, approached as a history and theory and as a framework for an ongoing media art and design work oriented toward gallery installation and online platforms. You can see the emerging dialog between his research and artistic practice—much of which draws on the imagery and rhetoric of advertising and product design—at utopia-dystopia.com. Twitter: @GabiSchaffzin
Dr. Livia Arndal Woods is a Lecturer in the English Department Writing Program at the University of Michigan. She holds a PhD in English Literature from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) where she completed a dissertation titled “Heavy Expectations: Reading Pregnancy in the Victorian Novel,” now a book manuscript – Pregnancy in the Victorian Novel. Her pedagogical research appears in Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies; her literary criticism appears in Nineteenth-Century Contexts, Victorian Network, a forthcoming issue of Women’s Writing, a forthcoming edited collection, Theorizing Syphilis and Subjectivity, and the Winter 2016 special issue of Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies on “Relations,” which she guest edited.