Medical Humanities Colloquy 4.0

Title: On Not Being Able to Read: Doomscrolling and Anxiety in Pandemic Times

Speaker: Laura Salisbury

Date: 11.1.2022

Time: 5: 30pm IST

Zoom Link:

Meeting ID: 933 7945 4169
Passcode: 052495

Abstract: This talk analyses the phenomenon of ‘doomscrolling’ – the compulsive reading of anxiety-inducing online content – during the COVID-19 pandemic against the common idea that it is simply an addictive social practice that impedes mental flourishing. Instead, in order to open up its inclination towards care, I read doomscrolling through the anachronistic neologism that has come to define this textual practice. My talk reads the anxious textuality of Don DeLillo’s The Silence and Saidiya Hartman’s reworking of W. E. B. Du Bois’s ‘The Comet’ to demonstrate how doomscrolling emerges from a moment in which trust is anxiously fractured, but how it works, nevertheless, to witness what gets to count within a time felt to be coming to an end.

Laura Salisbury is Professor of Modern Literature and Medical Humanities at the University of Exeter, where she works in the Department of English and Film and in the Wellcome Centre for the Cultures and Environments of Health. She has published widely in the field of modern and contemporary literature, in critical theory, and in medical humanities. She has written and edited books on Samuel Beckett and on the relationship between neurology and modernity. With Lisa Baraitser, Laura is currently co-directing a 5 year project funded by the Wellcome Trust called Waiting Times that examines what it means to wait in and for healthcare. She is also the President of the Samuel Beckett Society.