Pandemic landscapes: Peaks and tunnels, waves and plateaus

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic I have collected metaphors used to talk about it. First there were metaphors for the virus and for what to do about the spread of the virus and so on. Then there were metaphors of lockdowns, confinement and imprisonment but also more hopeful ones of journeys. Now metaphors …

Science, sanity and sanitation

Lots of things keep happening in this pandemic… Two things, in particular, happened over the last couple of days, which made me and many others sit up and think. The membership of SAGE, the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, was revealed at last, and we heard that Dominic Cummings attended meetings. At the same time, …

Our pandemic future: A metaphorical exploration

We have reached a point in the pandemic when many people are beginning to yearn for a return to normal life, beyond lockdowns, confinements or sheltering in place. Ed Yong, the renowned science writer, has written some great pieces for The Atlantic on the pandemic. The latest one is called “Our Pandemic Summer” (15 April) …

Being on a journey while staying at home: More about corona metaphors

Yesterday afternoon, I talked to somebody about coronavirus metaphors, which ones were good, which ones were bad etc. Of course, we discussed war metaphors. But I also said that people seem to have overlooked another, less conspicuous metaphor, the ‘journey’ metaphor. The journey metaphor is an important example of a ‘conceptual metaphor’ in Lakoff and …

A different kind of language in times of coronavirus

This is just a quick note on the language used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak in his speech on 8 April, 2020 on economic support for the charity sector, at the daily press conference at Downing Street. It starts with the well-rehearsed statements to which we have all become accustomed. It wishes …

Images in the time of coronavirus

This post has been inspired by conversations with friends and colleagues on the SCIREPS list, particularly David and Dolores Steinman, Martin Kemp, Pascale Pollier and Roberta Buiani. How words become images When did I first hear the word ‘coronavirus’? That must have been during the outbreak of SARS in 2003, but I had surely forgotten. …

Silence, songs and solace: Music in the time of coronavirus

This post is jointly authored by Brigitte Nerlich (University of Nottingham), Martin Döring (University of Hamburg) and Pernille Bogø Jørgensen (University of Lancaster) *** Almost two decades ago, Martin Döring and I did a project on ‘the social and cultural impacts of foot and mouth disease’. Foot and mouth disease is an infectious and sometimes …

Controlling covid19: Where science meets policy

This is a GUEST POST by Abigail Woods, Professor in the History of Human and Animal Health, King’s College London. Since covid19 control shot up the agenda just over a week ago there has been an ongoing stream of commentary about how ‘the science’ connects up with ‘the policy.’ Many people seem to be struggling …

Flattening the curve to curb an epidemic

In my last blog post I noted the sudden appearance and wide spread of phrases like ‘flattening, stretching, extending, pushing down, drawing out the curve’ and/or the epidemic, meaning that if we can delay or slow down or ‘lower’ the peak of the epidemic for a while and make ‘it’ less steep, we can buy …

Coronavirus: Risk, rumour and resilience 

I was just starting to write this post, when I saw a tweet from Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, quoting Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, who said, as widely reported: “This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumours. This is the time for solidarity, …