“Inoculation”

By Patricia Harte-Maxwell Lake Geneva, Wisconsin The 2021 U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship, a 72-hour marathon of sawing, hacking, chipping, engraving, and, of course, shovelling, was held in early February in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin as part of a larger event called Winterfest. The competition drew 11 teams from around the country: 3 teams from Wisconsin…

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Shakespeare’s Jabber: Snapshot of a Filipino Nurse

The first public COVID-19 vaccination was an opportunity to snap a meaningful photograph to commemorate a historical moment that could influence vaccine skepticism. On December 8th, The New York Times published a picture of a man getting the second public vaccination worldwide whom they identified as William Shakespeare, 81, with a joke cribbed from Twitter; “if the first Briton to get the shot was Patient 1A, would Shakespeare be 2B or not 2B?”

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You Are Experiencing Migraines in the Online World of COVID-19

The alarm goes off and you turn over. Before you are even fully awake you can feel it. The tell-tale tenderness of the eyes, the pressure in the left side of your head, the way the normally enjoyable radio station your alarm is set to suddenly sounds like nails on a chalkboard. You have woken…

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Vaccine Skepticism and the Gender Binary

Kelly McGuire A National Geographic and Morning Consult poll released earlier this week filled many with consternation when it revealed that fully one quarter of respondents identifying as women indicated that they were unlikely to take a coronavirus vaccine when one came available.[i] This news shook the optimism of those triumphantly celebrating the Pfizer and…

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“The Truth of Artificial Immunity:”

A Personal Reflection on the Nature of Implants and the Body When I was very small, I was certain that the scar on my stomach was the bones of a little fish swallowed in the womb. In the bathtub, I would trace over the pale and ridged lines, link the signs of suture to a…

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Language is a Virus

“Language is a virus from outer space. The word has achieved a state of stable symbiosis with the host,” says William Burroughs. He proposes a theory of “the unrecognized virus” in his 1962 novel The Ticket That Exploded. He suggests, “A virus operates autonomously, without human intervention. It attaches itself to a host and feeds off of it, growing and spreading from host to host.”

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“Contagion” — Reinfection in the Year 2020

In January of 2020, a 2011 film called Contagion directed by Stephen Soderbergh catapulted to the top of many personal watch-lists. This is not the result of some clever marketing. The film wasn’t even available in any popular subscription streaming services in the U.S. This started as an internet subculture phenomenon.

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On Immunity: COVID-19 and the Paradox of Parenthood

By Heather Marshall What I found most compelling about Eula Biss’s On Immunity was how it wed scientific data and logical arguments with emotional and ethical appeals in hopes of reaching the hesitant and the phobic towards vaccination who feel as though they have been left outside of the medical industry. As someone with an…

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The Miraculous Vaccine: Influenza Brings Perspective to SARS-CoV-2 and the Reality of Vaccination

By Patricia Harte-Maxwell In 1722 Mr. Maitland’s Account of Inoculating the Small Pox was published in England. The goal of the account was to give “to the World a certain Method of Relieving Mankind, and rescuing them from Fears and fatal Effects of that very loathsome and malignant Disease” (2) known as smallpox. For Maitland,…

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Rethinking Vaccination through Eula Biss’s On Immunity

Last week we explored the weird and wonderful world of eighteenth-century inoculation pamphlets and the stories they contain, trying to puzzle out how it was that this experimental technique in the 1720s galvanized thinking around the functioning of what we today refer to as the immune system. I’ve struggled somewhat with this week’s blog because…

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