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Parenting in Pandemic with Jessica Calarco and Meryl Alper

Public Humanities, Explorations in the Medical Humanities

dateMarch 8, 2021 timeMonday, 6:00pm EST locationVirtual Event
  • The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
  • Motherhood and Technology Working Group at CSSD
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
  • This event will have both live captioning and ASL interpreters.

Illustration of parent and child holding hands surrounded by large purple viruses, by Jasu Hu

The coronavirus pandemic inaugurated a global shift to online learning, working, and socializing. This event considers the immediate and longterm effects such a move has on parents and on forms of mothering in particular. Our panelists will discuss the history, theory, and data of mother's health decision making and pandemic-related disruptions to the family, as well as of familial navigation of disability, education, and adaptive digital devices. What social, cultural, economic, legislative structures shape this moment? What makes this moment new for families and for mothers especially? What will mothers do and why in the familial and digital times ahead? Please join us to discuss what is as much the story of motherhood, subject to the digital age, as the story of the digital age, subject to motherhood.

Image Credit: Jasu Hu


Meryl Alper is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern University. Her research explores the social and cultural implications of communication technologies, with a focus on disability and digital media, children and families’ technology use, and mobile communication. She is especially interested in the opportunities and challenges that media and technology provide young people with developmental disabilities and their families in the digital age. Her forthcoming book from MIT Press is titled, Kids Across the Spectrums: Growing Up Autistic in the Digital Age.

Alper Talk Title: “Only A Mother's Touch(screen): The Materiality of Maternal Labor and Assistive Technology”

Jessica Calarco is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Indiana University and the author of two books, A Field Guide to Grad School: Uncovering the Hidden Curriculum (Princeton 2020) and Negotiating Opportunities: How the Middle Class Secures Advantages in Schools (Oxford 2018). Her research examines inequalities in education and family life, and she has written about these inequalities in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Inside Higher Ed, and the Conversation.

Calarco Talk Title: “Leaning on the TV: How Privileged Mothers are Rewriting Screen Time Rules in the Wake of COVID-19”


Arden Hegele is Medical Humanities Fellow at the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities and Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is co-director of the Motherhood and Technology Working Group and co-editor of Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal.