A new publication from the University of Michigan Press, edited by U-M associate professor of American culture Kristin Hass, investigates what the humanities can teach us about COVID-19.
From the publisher's website:
"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. [...] 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."
The Kelsey's own head of conservation, Suzanne Davis, has contributed a chapter to this volume, "Grief and the Importance of Real Things during COVID-19," which she describes as follows:
"My essay is about grief and coping, and it was written primarily in the summer of 2020. People I love have died during the pandemic, some from COVID and others from different causes, but I didn't feel like I could write directly about those relationships or losses. Instead, I wrote around them, following themes that kept recurring for me that summer. I have an animist sort of relationship with objects, and this essay is a meditation on three. In addition to being a snapshot of the pandemic at a certain moment in time, it pretty accurately reflects the convoluted ways I think about and relate to artifacts. I spend a lot of time writing science and science-adjacent papers, and this was my first personal essay. It's very personal indeed, as my family comes up a lot. If you're wondering, science writing is much easier! I struggled a lot with impostor syndrome while writing this and I am incredibly grateful to everyone who was kind and patient enough to read it for me during that tortured but cathartic process."