‘The Time is Out of Joint’: Temporality, COVID-19 and Graphic Medicine

Article Summary by Sathyaraj Venkatesan and Ishani Anwesha Joshi

The article theorizes the human experiences of time during the lockdown and COVID-19 pandemic through selected comics. This research discusses how comics can be used to communicate the passage of time and argues that the events of the pandemic have shifted our temporal experience from clock time to a queer time that is situated outside formal constructions. Additionally, it demonstrates how pandemic time, in contrast to the individual experience of time during an illness, is both singular (as experienced by an individual) and collective (as experienced by a community of people). Drawing from these cues, the essay looks at how various comic artists such as Jesse Lambert (in COVID-19 Dawn), Claudia Matosa (in The Passage of Time), and Gemma Correll (in December 26 – January 1 and My Pandemic Devolution) represent time during the COVID-19 lockdown. Though their orientation, style, and practice are different, these artists capture the passage and experience of time outside of formal time-related constructions. They explore the different ways that time can be experienced, including loss of referentiality, directionality, alienation, stagnation, acceleration, and queering of time. First, Lambert presents the queer aspects of the pandemic time and the limits of human agency and control through the image of a melting clock. Second, Matosa depicts the simultaneous lengthening and shortening of lived time, demonstrating that, if not stagnation, pandemic time produces a sense of intense hypervelocity (acceleration), in which movements blur and coalesce into a seamless pattern. Third, Correll’s December 26 – January 1 conveys the simultaneous reiterations of time based on subjective experiences and memory. She further portrays her sense of disorientation by highlighting how temporal stagnation emphasizes the forgettability of day-to-day and induces a sense of vacuity and sameness. Finally, In My Pandemic Devolution, Correll depicts her so-called ‘devolution’ from a full-fledged standing individual to a worm-like creature. In conclusion, the article employs comics to demonstrate how the definitive markers of time and the concept of measurable time were dismantled, rearranged, and reconfigured in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Read the full article on the Medical Humanities journal website.


Picture of Sathyaraj Venkatesan Dr. Sathyaraj Venkatesan is a Professor of English at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli (India). He is the author of nine books and over a hundred research articles.







Picture of Ishani Anwesha Joshi Ishani Anwesha Joshi is a doctoral graduate student in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli (India). Her ongoing Ph.D. dissertation concentrates on COVID-19 and Graphic Medicine.

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