Headlines about COVID-19 often stress its unprecedented character. Yet scientists have been warning us about the realities of such a threat for years. What do reactions of surprise and shock in the face of the pandemic tell us about trauma and its impact on our imagination? What role can creative work — art, fiction, poetry, film — play in helping us work through trauma and envision better futures?


Nicole Simek
Cushing Eells Professor of Philosophy and Literature; Professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures (French) and Interdisciplinary Studies

Nicole Simek specializes in French Caribbean literature. She teaches courses in language, modern French and Francophone fiction, trauma theory, race and ethnic studies and gender studies. Her current research focuses on a resurgent fascination with bloodlines in contemporary debates over kinship and community.

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COVID-19: A Liberal Arts Approach to the Study of a Global Pandemic was created in the spring of 2020 as a special one-credit course for Whitman College’s most newly admitted students, offering them an opportunity to get to know our distinguished faculty and to study a significant event in human history.