Beyond Better is an oral history and archival-based public medical humanities project which provides a space for public discussion and reflection around the experience of COVID-19 via our exhibition space on Instagram (@thebeyondbetterproject) and on our website (www.beyondbetter.org). Through the collection, analysis, curation, and artistic interpretation of oral history interviews and personal narratives shared by survivors of COVID-19 alongside the careful analysis of three historical case studies from the mid-20th century U.S. polio epidemic, Beyond Better invites the public to consider the long-term impact of epidemics on society through the perspectives of disability studies, storytelling, history, and art. Our approach is shaped by the following questions:
- How does the “cure” framework of modern medicine shape people’s experience of “getting better”—of survival—in epidemics?
- How does survival during an epidemic change the way we, at both the individual and collective levels, experience what it means to be well and healthy in daily life?
- How do survivors of pandemics reshape the meanings and experiences of disability and the sociopolitical landscape?
- How might a disability-centered approach to analyzing pandemics provide a more inclusive framing that can account for a fuller range and depth of experience for encounters with COVID 19?
The project will begin recruiting interview participants and artists in early January 2021.
Jessica Martucci, Research Associate in the Division of Ethics, along with colleague Britt Dahlberg, is the recipient of funding from the National Council on Public History and Villanova University’s LePage Center for History in the Public Interest for the Beyond Better project.
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