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.
Liz Bowen is a Ph.D. candidate in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where she is working on a dissertation project that traces the intertwined literary deployments of disability, animality, and cognitive otherness as sites for aesthetic experimentation in 20th and 21st century American literature. Liz is also a widely published poet and poetry critic. Her first full-length poetry collection, Sugarblood, was published by Metatron Press in 2017, and her chapbook Compassion Fountain is forthcoming from Hyacinth Girl Press. Her poems and critical essays have appeared in Boston Review, Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, Humanimalia, The Wanderer, Dream Pop Press, Cosmonauts Avenue, The Atlas Review, and elsewhere.
Site Designer and 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 Contributors
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 current project, “Queer Pregnancy in Shakespeare’s Plays” addresses a blind spot in queer readings of Shakespeare’s work: the pregnant body. This project reflects her ongoing research interests: early modern literature and culture; critical race, gender, and sexuality studies; and the medical humanities. Her work is forthcoming or has appeared in the peer-reviewed journals Shakespeare Studies and The Tennessee Williams Annual Review, and she is also a contributing writer for Visible Pedagogy.
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.
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.
April Edwell and Jennifer Edwell are professionals and partners who are well-acquainted with the opportunities and challenges of medical/health humanities collaboration. At present, April is a clinical fellow in Pediatric Intensive Care at the University of California San Francisco, where she is conducting research on patient-provider communication. Jennifer is a Ph.D. candidate in English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is working on a dissertation that explores the interplay between religious and medical rhetoric in the history of obstetrics, pediatrics, and neonatology.
Emilie Egger is a PhD candidate at Yale University whose research focuses on eugenics and family planning in Latin America and the United States. Her dissertation follows the aftermath of a family-limitation campaign in Peru during the 1990s in the context of the global shift toward socially conservative reproductive policy after decades of population-control efforts. Emilie also holds a master’s degree in women’s history from Sarah Lawrence College, where she was the recipient of the Gerda Lerner Prize in Women’s History in 2014.
Chuka Nestor Emezue is a Nursing Ph.D. student at the University Of Missouri Sinclair School Of Nursing. His art and research interests tackle transcultural manifestations of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), focusing on ecosocial and comparative interventions for men who abuse women. He also studies how these interventions link to expression of toxic masculinities, misrecognition of black masculinity, potential psychopathologies of IPV; trauma-informed care for survivors; childhood psychological injuries correlating to IPV; power/control behavior, and intergenerational trauma. In 2016, he obtained a Master’s in Public Health MPH) and a Master’s in Public Affairs (MPA). He currently resides in Columbia, Missouri working on ongoing IPV intervention research by day and a novel by night, and he curates a literary blog, www.plainblacktees.com.
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
Mia Florin-Sefton is a second-year PhD Candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Her research examines the interface of cultural production and the discriminatory logics of biocapitalism; with specific attention to questions of gender, sexuality, race, age and disability. Before coming to Columbia she worked as a Curatorial Assistant on an exhibition on science fiction at the Barbican Centre, London; and from 2015-16 she was a Thouron Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. At present she is the graduate fellow for the Queer Studies Working Group at Columbia’s Center for the Study of Social Difference; and is working towards a certificate in Teaching Feminist Theory at the Institute for Research in Gender and Sexuality Studies.
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.
Liora O’Donnell Goldensher is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at Princeton University. Her research considers homebirth midwifery and the broader community of practice surrounding natural or alternative childbirth. Proceeding from debates about professionalization in homebirth midwifery, the dissertation considers community struggles over the meanings and status of expertise, scientific knowledge and facticity, law and regulation, and freedom and choice. She is jointly enrolled in Princeton’s Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities and is affiliated with the Prison Teaching Initiative and with the programs in American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies.
Dr. Roanne Kantor is an Assistant Professor of English at Stanford 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 Harvard, Boston University, Brandeis, and The University of Texas at Austin, where she earned her Masters and Ph.D.
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 associated with women’s health in popular British literature of the long nineteenth century, which, through various dialectics, reflected and challenged 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 publications 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.
Dr. 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.
Claire Litt is pursuing a PhD in History at Queen’s University. Her research interests include the cultural significance of extraordinary and beautiful objects in late Renaissance Italy and the intertwined development of magic, science and religion and their relation to healing practices leading up to the Scientific Revolution. Her doctoral dissertation will investigate the revival of the ancient Greco-Roman practice of using gemstones for healing in early modern Florentine medicine, art, and literature.
Dr. Sneha Mantri MD MS (narrative medicine), is Assistant Professor of Neurology at Duke University, where she is also core faculty of the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, and History of Medicine and a member of the Narrative Medicine Colloquium. In addition to caring for patients with Parkinson disease and other movement disorders, her academic work focuses on the use of expressive writing to improve physician understanding of patient experience and to mitigate physician/trainee burnout.
Lauren Mitchell is an author, a feminist speaker, and full-spectrum doula and founder of The Doula Project. She is a graduate of Columbia’s Narrative Medicine program, and was formerly one of the coordinators of the reproductive choices service of one of New York’s largest public hospitals. Her book, The Doulas: Radical Care for Pregnant People was published by Feminist Press in 2016. She currently lives in Nashville where she is a doctoral candidate at Vanderbilt University, as well as a part-time carpetbagger and full-time cat mom. Her dissertation, entitled “Alienating Aesthetics: Performance Art and the Medical Imagination,” has been shaped by her clinical experience.
Diana Rose Newby is a PhD student in the English & Comparative Literature Department at Columbia University. Diana teaches a course on Readings in Gender & Sexuality in Columbia’s University Writing Program, and she was recently awarded a Lead Teaching Fellowship with Columbia’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Diana’s research tends to focus on Victorian and modernist literature, exploring the intersection of the life sciences and their attendant philosophies with issues of bodily identity and precarity in the long nineteenth-century novel.
Ittai Orr is a PhD candidate in American Studies at Yale University. His dissertation recovers concepts of intellectual ability in American literature and culture before the advent of IQ, demonstrating how developments in the science of the mind influenced the views, literary forms, and political imaginations of such authors as Henry David Thoreau, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, William Wells Brown, and Margaret Fuller. He has presented work at MLA, ASA, and the Massachusetts Historical Society, and has published essays and reviews in American Quarterly and Public Books. He is the producer for a podcast episode on disability studies and nineteenth-century literary studies for J19, and co-founded the Yale Disability Studies working group.
Amala Poli is a literary scholar interested in exploring the intersections between medicine and literature. She holds an MA in English Studies from the Manipal Centre for Humanities, MAHE, situated in Karnataka, India, with an interdisciplinary orientation to philosophy and sociology. Her research focuses on the expression of the self in the medical memoir, and the possibilities that emerge in re-imagining the spectrum of health through reading medical memoirs. She is also a freelance writer and an editor of academic papers. Her forthcoming book, set for release by the Manipal Universal Press in 2019, is a study of personal narratives that engage with notions of health and illness.
David Robertson is a doctoral candidate in Princeton University’s Program in the History of Science. His historical interests include colonial and postcolonial history, the history of anthropology, and the history of the human sciences with an emphasis on the mind sciences. Previously he obtained an MA in history from the University of Sydney. His thesis examined the history of psychiatric fieldwork undertaken in Aboriginal communities across the second half of the twentieth century. His dissertation investigates efforts to standardize psychiatric classification and practice from the 1950s onward with an emphasis on the role that medical instruments played in this process. Toward this end he is currently living in Geneva, where he is engaged in ongoing research in the organization’s archives.
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
Calloway Scott received his PhD in 2017 from NYU, where he is currently a Lecturer in the Classics Department. His work takes a multidisciplinary view on the relationship between science, religion, and social structures in ancient Greece and the Mediterranean more widely. Currently, he is adapting his dissertation into a monograph which explores Greek conceptions of health as both a biological and social phenomenon through the lens of cult. A second book project reevaluates the social, cultural, and epistemic roles played by “heredity” and “inheritability” in Greek antiquity. In addition to work published in Classical Antiquity, he has written on medical history and contemporary politics for popular publications like The Verge.
Lesley Thulin is a PhD student in English at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research interests include British literature of the long eighteenth century, disability studies, and affect studies. Lesley received an M.St. in English Language and Literature from the University of Oxford, and her B.A. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University.
Emily Wheater is a Wellcome Trust funded PhD student in Translational Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh. In her research she investigates the impact of premature birth on the developing brain. Although she has followed the path of the scientist, she retains an interest in the arts and humanities and their interaction with the sciences. She is particularly interested in the role the visual arts have played as a means of recording scientific knowledge, and as a tool for disseminating it.
Dr. Livia Arndal Woods is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Trinity College (2018-2019) and in the fall of 2019 will join the faculty of the University of Illinois at Springfield as an Assistant Professor of Literature. Her work focuses on Victorian literature, gender and sexuality studies, and reading practices. 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.
Bennett Kuhn is a Philadelphia-based music producer, DJ, synthesist, percussionist, multimedia artist, teacher, community organizer, and co-owner of the Philadelphia/Brooklyn-based record label Astro Nautico. Kuhn facilitates collaborative, community-embedded music practices that address emergencies in care justice. A co-organizer of Philadelphia-based Creative Resilience Collective, he is part of a multidisciplinary network of artists, technologists, designers, care providers, and academics improving access to mental health care with and for underserved populations in Philadelphia. As a Synapsis musician-in-residence, Kuhn is thrilled to be producing original creative work and critical writing in response to ongoing projects. More on Soundcloud and Instagram (@radiokuhn).
Darian Goldin Stahl is an American printmaker and bookmaker based in Montreal, Canada. She is currently a PhD Humanities student at Concordia University in Montreal. Darian employs research-creation methods to investigate how a haptic engagement with a person’s own medical scans can restore a sense of agency over the medicalized body, and in turn, change the way a doctor views her patient from a representative object into irreducible subject. Darian’s artwork employs visual metaphors to better represent what it is like to live with chronic illness on a daily basis. To this end, she combines signifiers of illness (such as MRI scans and hospital gowns) with sound, light, aromatic oils, and skin impressions to create immersive psychological snapshots of the patient’s mind while she is being scanned in the hospital. This arts-based inquiry is a collaborative cycle of informing and reconstructing illness identity, with the aim of advancing the field of medical humanities and fostering a more empathetic relationship between medical practitioners and their patients. Darian’s thesis was awarded the prestigious Vanier Graduate Scholarship for her interdisciplinary research potential.