Being Human During COVID, edited by Kristin Ann Hass, highlights what the humanities can teach us about COVID-19. The volume features chapters from three members of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures: David Caron, Nicholas Henrikson, and Marisol Fila.
The edited volume explores the role of the arts and humanities during COVID. While Science dominated the news, art also played a critical role and had a positive impact on people's daily lives.The humanities, from literature, to music to media brought people together during the lockdown. The edited volume seeks to answer critical questions about humanity including how human societies work and how culture determines our collective fate.
David Caron, a Professor of French and Women’s and Gender Studies, wrote a chapter in the book entitled “Waiting = Death: COVID-19, the Struggle for Racial Justice, and the AIDS Pandemic.” In this chapter, Caron speaks about patience and impatience. He compares the “waiting” we are doing during COVID-19 to waiting during the AIDS crisis and civil rights movement. Caron writes “I remember what it felt like to wait with other people—and then to have enough.” Caron is the author of several books on the culture of HIV/AIDS and queer theories of community and is currently working on a book on transnational queer cinema.
Associate Professor of Spanish Linguistics Nicholas Henrikson co-wrote the chapter “Unmuting Voices in a Pandemic: Linguistic Profiling in a Moment of Crisis,” along with Matthew Neubacher. From a linguistic perspective, Henrickson explores the structure of linguistic profiling, its relevance in the pandemic, and the social profiling that has come to the forefront. Henrikson’s research, “From Africa to Patagonia” analyzes how language is entangled with cultural identity.
The book also features Marisol Fila, a graduate fellow and PhD candidate in RLL in her chapter titled “Digital Encounters from an Intersectional Perspective: Black Women in Argentina.” Fila writes about how Black, LGBTQ+, and feminist activism are vital in the midst of inquealities due to the impact of the virus. She mentions how digital platforms allow activists to continue their work. Fila mentions that the Argentinian government “created a context for the COVID-19 epidemic that included increased inequality and greater difficulty for vulnerable populations.”
The volume is a compilation of traditional scholarly essays, personal essays, visual art projects and more. Hass, who edited the volume, is an Associate Professor of American Culture at U-M and focuses her studies on material culture, structures of inequality and memorials. It is available in paper and as an open-access book from the University of Michigan Press.