Being Human during COVID

Subjects: American Studies, African American Studies, Anthropology, Archaeology, Theater and Performance, Literary Studies, Middle and Near Eastern Studies, Women's Studies
Paperback : 9780472038787, 422 pages, 87 illustrations, 8 videos, 6 x 9, November 2021
Open Access : 9780472902507, 422 pages, 87 illustrations, 8 videos, 6 x 9, November 2021

We would like to recognize the generous support of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and the Michigan Humanities Collaboratory at the University of Michigan for the Fulcrum edition of this volume.
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What the humanities can teach us about COVID-19

Table of contents


Kristin Hass, Introduction: Living with the Virus that Knows How We See Each Other

Part I: Naming

Christopher Matthews, This Virus Has No Eyes: Telling Stories in the Land of Monsters

Sara Blair, Facing our Pandemic

Patrick Bates, Alexandra Friedman, Adam Kouraimi, Ashley Lucas, Sriram Papolu, and Cozine, Living on Loss of Privileges: What We Learned in Prison

Michelle McClellan and Aprille McKay, Not Even Past: Archiving 2020 in Real Time

Part II: Waiting

David Caron, Waiting = Death: COVID-19, the Struggle for Racial Justice, and the AIDS Pandemic

Donald S. Lopez, Buddhism, the Pandemic, and the Demise of the Future Tense
Jim Cogswell, COVID Diary: Hands, Nets, and Other Devices

Amal Hassan Fadlalla, Social Distances in Between:  Excerpts from my COVID-19 Diaries

Part III: Grieving

Suzanne L. Davis, Grief and the Importance of Real Things during COVID-19

Sara Forsdyke, Looking Backwards In Order to Look Forwards: Lessons about Humanity and the Humanities from the Plague at Athens

William A. Calvo-Quirós, Protests, Prayers, and Protections: Three Visitations during COVID-19

Melanie Tanielian, Soliloquous Solipsism: An Attempt to Put Words to a Loss of Words

Part IV: More Waiting/Sheltering

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, Finding Home Between the Vincent Chin Case and COVID-19

Daniel Herbert, Caged with the Tiger King: The Media Business and the Pandemic

Nick Tobier, Prosthetics for Right Now

Part V: Resisting

Abigail J. Stewart, COVID-19’s Attack on Women and Feminists’ Response: The Pandemic, Inequality, and Activism

Eimeel Castillo, The Virus that Kills Twice: COVID-19 and Domestic Violence under Governmental Impunity in Nicaragua

Sueann Caulfield, “Our Steps Come from Long Ago”: Living Histories of Feminisms and the Fight Against COVID in Brazil

Abigail A. Dumes, Making Sense of Sex and Gender Differences in Biomedical Research on COVID-19

Marisol Fila, Digital Encounters from an Intersectional Perspective: Black Women in Argentina

Verena Klein, The Media Discourse on Women-Led Countries in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Using Germany as an Example

Jayati Lal, Coronavirus Capitalism and the Patriarchal Pandemic in India: Why We Need A “Feminism for the 99%” that Focuses on Social Reproduction.

Özge Savaş, Whose Challenge is #ChallengeAccepted? Performative Online Activism During the COVID-19 Pandemic and its Erasures

Abiola Akiyode-Afolabiand and Ronke Olawale, COVID-19: Nigerian Women and the Fight for Holistic Policy

Part VI: Not Waiting

Roland Hwang, COVID-19 through an Asian American Lens: Scapegoating, Harassment, and the Limits of the Asian American Response

David Patterson, The High Stakes of Blame: Medieval Parallels to a Modern Crisis

Nicholas Henriksen and Matthew Neubacher, Un-Muting Voices in a Pandemic: Linguistic Profiling in a Moment of Crisis

Anita Gonzalez, Acting Out: Performance and Political Mobilization in the Pandemic


Look Inside


Science has taken center stage during the COVID-19 crisis; scientists named and diagnosed the virus, traced its spread, and worked together to create a vaccine in record time. But while science made the headlines, the arts and humanities were critical in people’s daily lives. As the world went into lockdown, literature, music, and media became crucial means of connection, and historians reminded us of the resonance of the past as many of us heard for the first time about the 1918 influenza pandemic. As the twindemics of COVID-19 and racial injustice tore through the United States, a contested presidential race unfolded, which one candidate described as “a battle for the soul of the nation."

Being Human during COVID documents the first year of the pandemic in real time, bringing together humanities scholars from the University of Michigan to address what it feels like to be human during the COVID-19 crisis. Over the course of the pandemic, the questions that occupy the humanities—about grieving and publics, the social contract and individual rights, racial formation and xenophobia, ideas of home and conceptions of gender, narrative and representations and power—have become shared life-or-death questions about how human societies work and how culture determines our collective fate. The contributors in this collection draw on scholarly expertise and lived experience to try to make sense of the unfamiliar present in works that range from traditional scholarly essays, to personal essays, to visual art projects. The resulting book is shot through with fear, dread, frustration, and prejudice, and, on a few occasions, with a thrilling sense of hope.

Kristin Ann Hass is Associate Professor of American Culture at the University of Michigan.

"Instructors in many disciplines, but particularly those interested in digital humanities, may want to use selections from the book in their classes. General readers may find comfort and inspiration in these authors' varied responses to the global pandemic. Highly recommended."


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