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Monkey pox and metaphors

Again and again, I have come across standard ways of metaphorically framing infectious diseases and their spread, be it foot and mouth disease, avian influenza, swine flu, SARS, Zika, Covid, and now monkeypox. War and invasion metaphors are used abundantly, but also fire, wave and flood metaphors, landscape metaphors like valleys and peaks and much …

Poxpics: The visual discourse of monkeypox

Last week I talked about the coronavirus as an invisible killer and discussed some shortcomings of that metaphor. However, despite the nefarious uses of that metaphor, we should not forget that the coronavirus IS indeed an invisible threat and can be an invisible killer; no way around it. It wafts through the air unseen and …

Invasion of the covid metaphor

This post is cross-posted from the i-human Covid-19 blog (University of Sheffield). It summarises a chapter I wrote for the book Being Human during Covid-19. I’d like to thank the editors of the book for both inviting me to write the chapter and giving me the opportunity to blog about it. *** As Milan Kundera said in …

The dance of creation and the music of the stars

Everybody will now have seen pictures of the cosmos beamed down to earth by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). These images provoked admiration, awe and wonder – they were indeed sublime. In this post won’t explore these cosmic images themselves but some of the language that was used to talk about them. Deep field …

Marianne North: On the trail of a Victorian painter and adventurer

A while ago, my husband listened, rather by chance, to Thought for the Day, where Rev Marie-Elsa Bragg mentioned a book called ‘A Vision of Eden’ by Marianne North (as an aside, North was an atheist). My husband later told me about the book, as he knew I was ’into such things’. He also knew …

Climate change and language change

For over ten years I have now been thinking and writing about extreme weather events, especially floods and fires, and how they are verbally and visually represented in the media and beyond. Over that decade the issue of extreme weather has become increasingly topical and people no longer hesitate to discuss this topic in the …

Gene drive in the press: Between responsible research and responsible communication

Gene drive is a controversial genetic engineering technique that allows scientists to modify genes so that they quickly spread through a population without following the typical rules of heredity; this can include genes that are of no benefit to the plant or animal involved. Research into gene drives has accelerated since 2015 when another new …

Monkeypox

I recently saw these stats (as of May 31, 2022, there are 606 cases of Monkeypox worldwide, with the UK having 190, Spain 136, and  Portugal 100) and this graph (see featured image). And I thought: Should I write something about monkeypox? Then I thought: Why not, just to get things straight in my head. …

Extreme event/weather communication

Communication sciences span a large array of fields and issues. We have science communication, risk communication, crisis communication, health communication, and, of course climate change communication. Over the last few years, it has become clear to me that when it comes to climate and weather, all these communication efforts converge and become part of what …

The sky is falling and the trees are crying: Reflections on extreme weather

For some weeks now, I wanted to write something about ‘rain bombs’, a relatively new weather/climate phenomenon and metaphor – but I didn’t get round to it. Then, last week, when I sat down to write, thoughts about strong rain were displaced by thoughts about fire and heat. In the end I decided to write …