Reading Response 3

Barclay and Scott articulate the importance of “flattening the curve” in their Vox article regarding COVID-19. While it is frightening that research has noted that “20 to 60 percent of adults” will be infected with coronavirus at one point or another, and rumors claim that everyone will be infected eventually, it is contrastingly encouraging that the medical system is prepared and understands its own capacity. Countries like China, South Korea, and Italy have experienced great loss due to a worldwide lack of knowledge about the virus and infrastructural/social changes that were implemented too late. While the outbreaks in these countries have been heartbreaking, they have provided crucial information about how to slow and stop the outbreaks in other countries worldwide. The early intervention of social distancing and the closing of businesses has vastly improved the rate at which coronavirus spreads, especially because it travels through the air and can live on surfaces for extended periods of time.

Interestingly, this disease primarily affects older people and those with preexisting chronic conditions like diabetes; this disparity has had an effect upon the extent to which social distancing is practiced by individuals. Many young adults have not taken quarantining as seriously as they should simply because they are not the demographic most at risk of severe symptoms, but Barclay and Scott note that “even if you’re young and healthy, it’s your job to follow social distancing measures to avoid spreading it to others.” An important frame of thinking about quarantine is that it is not necessarily to protect you, but to protect others. It is alarming to think that young people can be nearly asymptomatic and still highly contagious, since the disease spreads so easily and many people are unaware of being infected until someone at risk becomes sick. For this reason, articles such as this one from Vox are communicating crucial information regarding civic duty and utilizing emotional and logical rhetoric (by communicating the shortage of ventilators in the case of outbreak and other data) to emphasize the gravity of this global pandemic and importance of social responsibility.


Barclay, Eliza, and Dylan Scott. “How Canceled Events and Self-Quarantines Save Lives, in One Chart.” Vox, 10 Mar. 2020,

RR 3 – Barclay

In Barclay’s article concerning Coronavirus/COVID-19, I think one of the most interesting points concerns the number of ventilators. Based off of estimates of previous flu pandemics in the United States, we should technically have enough ventilators to cover everyone. On the other hand, based off of the estimates of the Spanish flu pandemic we definitely do not have enough (Barclay 2020). This brings up the hard question of who gets the ventilators and who does not when it comes down to having to choose. On one hand, we should provide ventilators to people who are the most likely to survive and help them get better more quickly, such as young people with no preexisting conditions. On the other hand, we should provide ventilators to people who need them the most, such as the elderly or people with preexisting respiratory conditions. This brings up a moral dilemma that I am glad I do not have to make a decision about.

Another interesting point that Barclay brought up in their article was about the importance of social distancing and self-isolation. As Emily Landon explained, while young people are not as likely to be severely affected by this disease, we still need to stay in isolation so as not to spread it to others who are more vulnerable (Barclay 2020). Though it is hard, it is definitely the right thing to do. While it is difficult to not be around friends, my family recently encountered a difficult decision regarding self-quarantine. Because it is Easter weekend, we were planning on my older brother to come home and spend the weekend with us. We had to make the tough decision to tell him not to come because it is not essential and while he may not be putting us at risk, we could be putting him at risk. My dad is still required to go into work every day and is worried about bringing something home to us. While we want my older brother to come home, it would be awful if we gave him something that he then spread it to his roommate and so forth.

Works Cited

Barclay, Eliza, and Dylan Scott. “How Canceled Events and Self-Quarantines Save Lives, in One Chart.” Vox, Vox, 10 Mar. 2020,


Reading Response #3

Defining “you” During a Pandemic

In Barclay’s Vox news article she reports on the the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, and the importance of people self quarantining and self isolating. Throughout the entire article Barclay uses many quotes of officials, the CDC, epidemiologists, and a whole host of other people using language that refers to a majority of people who are not school aged children, not immunocompromised, and not elderly. Healthy people are those that can “do something” in the midst of this crisis. “‘Right now there’s always a doctor available when you need one, but that may not be the case if we’re not careful'”, the “you” in this statement is using assumptions that the reader is currently healthy and has not contracted the virus. “‘If more of us do that, we will slow down the spread of the disease,'” this is trying to appeal to the individual’s agency and emotions towards working for a “greater good” in our society. The audience is able to impact the health care industry in positive and negative ways, but action must be taken now. Barclay wrote, “So even if you’re young and healthy, it’s your job”. The “your” is directly addressing the individual reading the article, it is almost like she is calling the reader out. The previous quotes were not directly speaking to me as the target, necessarily. Officials make these statements about the general “you”: the public, the healthy population. The “you” and “we” are rarely about the sick, the disabled, the disadvantaged. Throughout the article, the is a call to action and an attempt to gather those that are not ill to bring about change to those that are currently and will be effected. It is interesting how “you” is typically seen as a very specific person but it is often used to grab the attention of a group of people.



Barclay, Eliza. “How Canceled Events and Self-Quarantines Save Lives, in One Chart.” Vox, 10 Mar. 2020,

Reading Response #3

In Barclay’s article about the coronavirus, she focuses on the idea of “flattening the curve.” This means that as time progresses, the number of cases is kept at a manageable level instead of an extreme peak over a shorter amount of time. While she writes that 20% to 60% of American adults will probably get COVID-19, she says that her priority is about slowing the rate of the spreading. The most vulnerable people right now are those over age sixty and people with chronic medical conditions. The main fear and thing to avoid are overwhelming the American healthcare system. If there are more people in need than there is hospital space, the worst-case scenario is prioritizing certain people over others. A specific limitation is ventilators. There is a fixed amount in hospitals and by the worst projections, there might be up to six times as much need as there are actual ventilators.

One thing that might seem counterintuitive is that increased social distancing and canceling events is not about lowering the total number of cases. Instead, the goal is to slow down the rate of new cases. Tom Frieden, who led CDC under the Obama administration, says that while widespread transmission can not be prevented at this point, explosive transmission can. By using an educating tone, Barclay is trying to get across what people’s goals should be during a pandemic. Instead of accepting that the total number of COVID-19 cases is not in our control anymore, the overall goal can be changed. With an emphasis on the rate of spreading, hopefully, the curve will be successfully flattened.


Omesi RR3 – Barclay Piece

The Action of Inaction: The Dangers of COVID-19 and ‘Flattening the Curve’

              In the midst of a crisis, key persuasive tactics must be employed to facilitate a strong and meaningful pandemic response. In a situation where it’s “’plausible’ that 20 to 60 percent of adults will be infected” with COVID-19, one must acknowledge that the situation is severe, and only by being proactive can a nation limit death.  Although the United States was noted to have a late response to this pandemic, leading to quickly growing statistics and deadly hot-zones building up in cities like New York City with a large amount of travel (my home city!), people aim to rally around phrases such as ‘flattening the curve’ to establish a centralized goalpost.  In Barclay’s article, she notes how ordinary measures such as “closing schools, canceling mass gatherings, working from home, self-quarantine, self-isolation, [and] avoiding crowds” can prevent the disease from spreading too fast.  If spread too fast, cases at a single point in time will reach a critical mass, and our medical infrastructure will no longer be able to support sick patients.  In a situation where healthcare is limited, we must protract this infection period to cope.  Already, states are competing for medical supplies such as N-95 masks, and Barclay further showcases the potential discrepancy in beds and ventilators using data gathered from Johns Hopkins and the HuffPost.

This piece signifies an appeal to Americans, acknowledging that we are facing a dilemma, yet there is “one thing people can do.”  This call to action reflects the persuasive elements of the piece.  Pathos arguments can be found in “my mom and your mom will have a hospital bed if they need it.”, as an emotional appeal may indicate the critical need for drastic and collective action.  Ethos arguments are applied as Barclay cites notable experts in the field, from the CDC to respected epidemiologists, to key government official and medical professionals.  Finally, the application of the “Flattening the Curve” graphic and the use of statistics reflects an appeal to logos.  In this critical time, people must be convinced to act, even if ‘acting’ is merely staying at home.  As such, Barclay utilizes classic persuasive measures to appeal to readers, and ultimately slow the spread of disease.




Barclay, Eliza. “How Canceled Events and Self-Quarantines Save Lives, in One Chart.” Vox, 10 Mar. 2020,

Omesi RR ‘Undone’

Cultural Breakdown and Integration: A Response to Undone

              In Undone, one sees how individuals like Alma must contend with a medicalized world built upon hierarchy and standardization, while being a part of a different world, both through her time manipulation ability as well as a heritage brought into being through childhood experiences and the ruins of ancient Mexican society.  This series showcased facets of American culture, delving into issues of immigration in the matter of Sam’s accent, wealth inequality and racial profiling in Becca’s marriage, and metal health inequality and stigma when considering Alma’s relegation to someone ‘sick’, as she is diagnosed with PTSD, and has a history of self-harm.  One of the most interesting developments in the series is the manner in which Alma attempts to justify and research her unique abilities in a scientific and medicalized manner, drawing upon reason to hold power over the presumed chaos she must feel in this new experience of time, that others born into such conditions may not find issue with.  She works with her father to manipulate time in an attempt to move in an objective and linear fashion, and draws upon a symbol of the Western world in the form of an old electronic gambling machine to maintain a classical  ‘Western’ view of time as linear.  Due to the Western upbringing of both Alma and her father, both struggle to put their true experiences with this ability into words, stressing an issue of linguistic relativism as they portray their time manipulation through presumed paradoxes or ‘trying to not try’.  This communication struggle is emblematic of their attempts to understand and utilize an ability unique to a culture that they were never raised in, and thus showcases issues communication and true understanding across cultural boundaries.

Yet, certain moments in Alma’s life cross cultural boundaries, explicitly in the form of dance.  In this series, dance is considered as a unifying experience, such that in most cases of dancing, Alma’s experience is imagined as that of her non-Western ancestors.  During the dance at Becca’s wedding, despite its ensuing annulment, dance is accompanied by images of nature, and color is used to indicate a more wild, colorful scene.  Likewise, while dancing with young children in her job as a caretaker, her visceral joy in dance transitions into a dance at the ‘dancing pit’ found in the ruins she had explored as a child.  Dance is considered as a grand unifier, a manner of sharing emotions in a raw manner uninhibited by social convention or cultural boundaries, and as such it is utilized as a way for Alma to connect with her family’s past.



Bob-Waksberg, Raphael, and Kate Purdy, creators. Undone. Amazon Prime Video, 2019.

My Degeneration Reading Response 2

In Peter Dunlap-Schohl’s My Degeneration, he illustrates his journey through Parkinson’s disease in the form of a graphic memoir, largely using metaphors and imagery to portray his experiences. On page 66, Dunlap-Schohl describes the process of rating his wellness by clicking different smiley face options: “Better than average, fair, poor” (65). He is choosing the first option when he is struck by the realization that he does not feel good at all. Before Parkinson’s, if he was having difficulty with daily tasks, he “would have chosen the ‘frowny’ and considered that an understatement” (66); but now, it is the better than normal.

This is an example of how much Peter embodies his illness and symptoms. His expectations of daily and normal life have changed. Illness forces him to carry everyday pain, but if the same symptoms were associated with his “healthy self,” he would not accept it as normal. This illustrates more broadly the expectations that are placed on the individual who is suffering. There are assumptions that the individual suffering should be getting stronger through the illness, and able to take on immense physical pain. Similar to the boxing analogy Peter uses, narratives of fighting the illness or rising above the symptoms can be problematic, as it puts a responsibility on the individual. As a parallel, often there is an understanding that the individual suffering should be able to handle it mentally. By Peter putting on the smiley face to replace his head, it shows a mask that many individuals have to put on in their daily lives to hide the struggles they are truly facing. The balance between accepting the illness and still maintaining the self is difficult, and a struggle Peter faces.


Dunlap-Shohl, Peter. My Degeneration: a Journey through Parkinson’s. The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2016.

Reading Response #2

Sam Whitfield

ANTH 272

Grant Glass


Dunlap-Shohl’s graphic memoir is an innovative illness narrative, and as such it could be beneficial to try and classify it under Frank’s models of restitution, chaos, and quest narratives. Looking at these models, I would say this graphic memoir is the most similar to what Frank would consider a quest narrative. This first piece of evidence to support this conclusion is that the book is a memoir, which is commonly used to document quest narratives. On top of this, the narrative itself has many concepts that Frank would consider as an indication of a quest narrative. For one, Dunlap-Shohl is diagnosed with a disease described as “progressive and incurable” (Dunlap-Shohl 7), and he is left to simply deal with it. This sends Dunlap-Shohl on a spiral downards, even bringing him close to suicide, until his wife helps talk him out of it (Dunlap-Shohl 30-31). After this emotional point, Dunlap-Shohl begins his long quest, one to both understand and learn to live with Parkinson’s. However, unlike a traditional quest narrative as described by Frank, Dunlap-Shohl’s quest does not seem to have a return. He departs from his old life when he is diagnosed with Parkinson’s (Dunlap-Shohl 6), and initiates this quest when he takes his first steps learning about Parkinson’s, as exemplified by the chapter “learning to speak Parkinson’s” (Dunlap-Shohl 17), but he never returns from where he started. This breaks from Frank’s model of a quest narrative, but it exemplifies that learning to live with Parkinson’s can be seen as a lifelong process, with no clear end in sight.

Dunlap-Shohl, Peter. My Degeneration: A Journey Through Parkinson’s. Pennsylvania State University Press, 2015.

Reading Response 2- NY Times/Structural Competency

Katie Pelay

Reading Response #2


For the second reading response, I am choosing to write about the New York Times article titled “Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis” by Linda Villarosa. The article serves to show the unequal distribution of maternal and infant mortality of African-Americans in the United States. Villarosa uses the experiences of Simone Landrum as a case study within the article to personify the statistics that she includes. By including both statistics (facts/figures) and personal narrative, Villarosa gives credit to Simone Landrum and others’ similar experiences of being pregnant and black in America. Too often, black mothers’ pain is not believed leading to higher cases of maternal mortality. By using data gathered by experts, Villarosa is acknowledge and giving value to the experiences of these mothers. Vice versa, the personal narrative of Simone Landrum and her two complication-ridden pregnancies provide context for what the statistics represent in daily life.

Villarosa’s article is a call to action to improve the outcomes of Black women in America. In order to accomplish this, an approach that utilizes Metzl and Hansen’s structural competency is essential. They define structural competency as going beyond the previous cultural competency approach that reduced stigma in health care. The central belief of structural competency “is that inequalities in health are related to institutions and social conditions” (Metzl and Hansen 127). Structural competency urges health care professional to consider race, class, gender, and ethnicity as factors that reduce health outcomes. Metzl and Hansen focus on the need to go beyond cultural competency and introduce structural competency into health care. Villarosa exemplifies this by using personal narrative as a cultural approach to illustrate the stigmas present in her experiences. To booster her argument, she uses facts and figures as a structural approach to show readers that experiences like Simone Landrum’s are all too common and a result of inadequate infrastructure.



Villarosa, Linda. “Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 11 Apr. 2018,

Metzl, Johnathan M, and Helena Hansen. “Structural Competency: Theorizing a New Medical Engagement with Stigma and Inequality.” Social Science & Medicine , vol. 103, pp. 126–133., doi:


Reading Response #2 – Iris Kang

  1. Promoting a More Comprehensive Way of Understanding “Structural Competency”

Through intertwining personal narrative and facts/figures, Villarosa is able to incorporate several aspects of structural competency using a pertinent issue in American social infrastructure. One way in which Villarosa does this is through addressing the second core competency—what Metzl and Hansen call “developing an extra-clinical language of structure” (129). Villarosa focuses on how illness is impacted by communal infrastructure by mentioning that “For black women in America, an inescapable atmosphere of societal and systemic racism can create a kind of toxic physiological stress, resulting…directly to higher rates of infant and maternal death.” She purposefully chooses to direct the reader’s attention to societally-embedded factors as roots to individual healthcare problems like those of Landrum. This complements Metzl and Hansen’s advocacy of employing epigenetics to connect the realms of healthcare and societal structures—an area they believe is growing in understanding “the impact of social environments on metabolisms or genetics [whereas] concepts of actual social structures and social forces lag behind” (129). In this case, Villarosa goes beyond analyzing the present tendency of “social environments” and instead traces maternal health issues of black women to both historical and current racial structures that undermine these women. In doing so, Villarosa presents a powerful image of how illness can be explored as a complex interplay with structural and systemic issues.

  1. Hinderances to Understanding “Structural Competency”

Although using facts/figures in conjunction with a personal narrative provides various advantages to understanding structural competency, there are some drawbacks to this method that hinder it as well. Throughout most of her article “Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis,” Villarosa narrows specifically on Simone Landrum and her encounters with maternal healthcare. Although there are a few references to the population of American black mothers, the focus of the article is mainly on this one individual. This can be seen as a hinderance to understanding structural competency in that Metzl and Hansen promote the use of structural competency to shift clinical perspective “from an exclusive focus on the individual encounter to include the organization of institutions and policies” (127). In several instances throughout the article, Villarosa decides to emphasize Landrum’s own experiences in the context of an individual life, detracting from the main purpose of structural competency as one that places an individual in a bigger context of systematic societal organization.

Follow this blog

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.