Tag Archives: Pandemic

All the Stories That We (Were) Told

By Nora Benitt

Pixar’s Rules of Sto­ry­telling by Pro­found Whatever

Life writ­ing – which includes a wide spec­trum of sub-gen­res such as (auto)biography, mem­oir, let­ter, diary, (dig­i­tal) life sto­ries, and oral his­to­ries – has a long tra­di­tion in the U.S. and is becom­ing more and more pop­u­lar all over the world. An abun­dance of arti­facts com­piled by famous, semi-famous, and not-at-all-famous peo­ple fill pub­lic libraries, pri­vate book­shelves, research cen­ters, social media, hard dri­ves, and web­sites. And that’s actu­al­ly not even sur­pris­ing since writ­ing and/or talk­ing about our­selves is a deeply root­ed cul­tur­al prac­tice and comes very nat­u­ral­ly to most human beings. We do it all the time: We tell a sig­nif­i­cant some­one how our day was, we put togeth­er our résumé when apply­ing for a new job, we talk about child­hood mem­o­ries with sib­lings or a close friend. How­ev­er, talk­ing and writ­ing about our­selves in an aca­d­e­m­ic con­text and, to boot, in a for­eign lan­guage is a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent story.

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505 Hours and 45 Minutes of Comfort in Times of Uncertainty

By Caroline Densch

“Make Em Laugh : Sit­coms” by Austin Kleon is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

505 hours and 45 min­utes – that’s how long it takes to watch all of my favorite TV shows. Ever since the first nation­wide lock­down began in Ger­many last March, I’ve been doing some seri­ous re-watch­ing. Among the shows I’ve been bing­ing is the entire sea­son of Friends (10), Parks and Recre­ation (7), The Office (9), Mod­ern Fam­i­ly (10), How I Met Your Moth­er (9), New Girl (7), and Brook­lyn 99 (8) – and some more than once.

Accord­ing to The Huff­in­g­ton Post, watch­ing some­thing famil­iar trig­gers a feel­ing of nos­tal­gia, which has a pos­i­tive effect on your men­tal health. For instance, your mind may recon­nect with the set­ting, the peo­ple you were with, or the feel­ings you had when you ini­tial­ly watched a cer­tain episode. In my case, re-watch­ing TV shows trans­ports me back to the time before the pandemic.

I’ve always been some­one to watch a good TV show mul­ti­ple times or read a good book more than once. At this point, how­ev­er, the rate at which I re-watch a film or show has reached a new height. Why is that? And what do all those TV shows have in com­mon, apart from being suc­cess­ful Amer­i­can sitcoms?

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My Girls, Our Girls, and the Women Before Us

By Martina Kohl

“It is my hon­or to be here, to stand on the shoul­ders of those who came before,” Kamala Har­ris, the first female, the first black, the first Asian Amer­i­can Vice-Pres­i­dent of the U.S.A. proud­ly said in her first address to the nation on inau­gu­ra­tion day. Her tone is opti­mistic, her goals are ambi­tious, and her ener­gy seems unlimited.

It is true, we all are stand­ing on the shoul­ders of those who came before, all the women who pre­pared the way for our progress, our achieve­ments. And there has been quite a bit of progress as Car­ol Dyhouse, a social his­to­ri­an at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Sus­sex, describes in her new book, Love Lives: From Cin­derel­la to Frozen. The title is a bit mis­lead­ing. Though myths, fairy tales, and pop­u­lar cul­ture tropes still influ­ence us, Dyhouse out­lines how women in the west­ern world have aban­doned the restric­tions of domes­tic life since the 1950s and grad­u­al­ly, though often painful­ly, have claimed access to edu­ca­tion and the pro­fes­sion­al world. A long path it has been to self-deter­mi­na­tion and eco­nom­ic independence.

But even now the ques­tion remains: Have we made enough progress? Because I do wor­ry about “my girls” these days, as Michelle Oba­ma describes them. I wor­ry about “my boys,” too, but this is a blog post to remind our­selves of Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Day and Women’s His­to­ry Month. Both encour­age us to reflect on those who came before, but also on those to whom we pass the baton, whose legs we steady on our shoulders.

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