Image by TheDigitalArtist (Pixabay License / Pixabay)

Love in the Time of Coronavirus: The Series, the Call for Papers

Love in the Time of Corona Virus is a new and hopefully short PopMatters series of art and life and the art of living in these times of global health crises.

Good Readers: We started this special series in March 2020, as we were receiving many personal communiques from PopMatters‘ contributors and interesting articles about life in this extraordinary time of global pandemic. Global shutdowns were just being announced.

Shortly thereafter, we lost our dear colleague, Brian Holcomb, to COVID-19.

The losses to life and culture and industry and the political impact throughout the world will not be fully realized for years to come.


If you would like to contribute to this special series, please follow our submissions process, here. (No emailed articles, please.) We are accepting short entries (500 words minimum) and of course, the long-form essays PopMatters, est. 1999, is known for.

Personal observations and experiences are welcome — but please, keep that smart cultural critique at the forefront. What we are looking for in this series is broader cultural criticism with elements of the personal experience. Articles hinging on outrage, angst, and anger and political diatribes will probably not be accepted — social media and news commentary are better platforms for that. Instead, take an informed cultural/political/personal look at life in these times of COVID-19.

We’re interested in art and life, and the art of living, in these times of global health crises.

Join us — at a safe distance — on this journey through the canonical and radical as we look to literary representations of pandemics past to help us understand the politics and possibilities of the present COVID-19 pandemic.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, be well, be safe, and spread love, but only love. Please, wear a mask and social distance. When vaccines become available to you, get vaccinated. Our lives depend upon mutual respect and cooperation.


Note: We don’t exclude readers with a paywall. That’s one of many ways we send love to you. Send PopMatters a little love back at no cost to you. It’s simple: don’t ad-block. If you’re not seeing ads, type “How to whitelist website” in your browser and follow the instructions. Thank you.

Oscar Wilde Envisions Our Post-Pandemic Socialist Future

Millennials and GenZ had time to contemplate the real harms wrought by capitalism during the pandemic shutdown. Perhaps they might read Oscar Wilde, now.

Read JT Thompson’s article.

Bo Burnham’s Pandemic Comedy Special ‘Inside’ Is The Krapp’s Last Tape of Our Times

Burnham: Inside (2021) | featured image

Like Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, Bo Burnham’s Inside offers rich insights into how our psyches and sense of self get warped by ever-advancing technologies.

Rory Kiberd’s article.

Photo Essay: Postcards from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Postcards from the milieu of the pandemic shutdown. A photo essay.

Words and photos by David Ensminger.

‘Chrono Trigger’ and Coping with Pandemic Trauma Through Video Games

Coping with the COVID-19 shutdown via a video game, where I have control over the apocalyptic outcome, was what I needed. Chrono Trigger delivered.

Luis Aguasvivas’ article.

On Peter Gabriel’s “I Have the Touch” in a Time of Forbidden Touch

Peter Gabriel Plays Live | Album Cover2

Peter Gabriel’s “I Have the Touch” perfectly captures the agonizing isolation that so many of us have been experiencing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chris Halls’ article.

How Musicians Are Surviving the Pandemic — and the Music Industry

Image by Harut Movsisyan from Pixabay

Marc Tissenbaum’s article.

‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ Can Help Children Cope with Covid-era Death

Momona Tamada as Claudia Kishi and Aya Furukawa as Janine Kishi in The Baby-Sitters Club (2020-) (IMDB)

As the COVID-19 pandemic upends our families, communities, and way of life, children, especially, struggle with loss. Rachel Shukert’s Netflix series, The Baby-Sitters Club can help.

Kara Mae Brown’s article.

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.

R.P. Finche’s article.

Teaching Miyazaki’s Films in the Time of Pandemic

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Kaze no tani no Naushika)(1984) (IMDB)

Miyazaki’s powerful worldview speaks to our times in striking ways: the hidden terror of the natural world; the need for truth and compassion; the humanism in the face of adversity.

Tom Kemper’s article.

COVID-19 Is but One Indication of the Return of the Monster

Image by Nick Magwood from Pixabay

Mike Davis’ COVID-era update about emerging flu pandemics, The Monster Enters, is concise, disturbing, and valuable.

George de Stefano’s article.

How Aaron Sorkin and U2 Can Soothe the Pandemic Mind


Like Aaron Sorkin, the veteran rock band U2 has been making ambitious, iconic art for decades—art that can be soaring but occasionally self-important. Sorkin and U2’s work draws parallels in comfort and struggle.

William DeGenero’s article.

Step Up to It: A Lesson from the Avengers for Our Time of COVID-19

Robert Downey Jr. prepares to wear his mask, er, helmet, to help fight the good fight. Avengers: Endgame (2019) (© Marvel Studios /IMDB)

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.

Douglas L. Howard’s article.

Waiting for the World to Change in the Era of COVID-19

From a GenXer to the GenZs in the time of COVID-19: We know, the waiting is the hardest part.

From a GenXer to the GenZs in the time of COVID-19: We know, the waiting is the hardest part.

Erin Saldin’s article.

Old Crow Medicine Show Sing on Through Total Devastation

Photo: Morgan Jahnig / Courtesy Lucky Bird Media

Social unrest, a global pandemic, and an industry that has forever been changed? No problem. Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor stares down the future.

Jedd Beaudoin’s article.

Life Isn’t Binary and Neither Is the Coronavirus Pandemic

Photo by James Wainscoat on Unsplash

Non-binary thinking offers new routes for adapting to life with Covid-19.
Rhea Rollmann’s article

I Went on a Jewel Bender During Quarantine. This Is My Report.

By Justin Higuchi from Los Angeles, CA, USA – Jewel Kilcher 05/18/2016 #4 (CC BY 2.0 / Wikipedia)

COVID-19 sure sucked the life out of things. I found some comfort in Jewel. That’s right. Jewel.

M. M. Carrigan’s article.

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

Moreton Hall, Weston Rhyn, United Kingdom / Photo by Emily Morter (Unsplash License / Unsplash)

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?

Nick Soulsby’s article.

Little Protests Everywhere

One of the George Floyd murals in Minneapolis. It’s described by the Guardian as a “passionate and redemptive mural”, which “demands a pause to the anger” , with George’s name bursting out of the central sunflower in “rays of light and human warmth”. Pic by Lorie Shaull (CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wikipedia)

Wherever you are, let’s invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let’s encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.

Billy Hallal’s article.

“Without Us? There’s No Music”: An Interview With Raul Midón

Photo: Samuel Prather / Courtesy of The Bloom Effect

Raul Midón discusses the fate of the art in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is going to shake things up in ways that could be very positive. Especially for artists,” he says.

Jedd Beaudoin’s article.

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti


COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.

Jana Fedtke’s article.

OK Go’s Emotional New Ballad, “All Together Now”, Inspired by Singer’s Bout with COVID-19

Photo: Still from “All Together Now” video

Damian Kulash, lead singer for OK Go discusses his recent bout with COVID-19, how it impacted his family, and the band’s latest pop delight, “All Together Now”, as part of our Love in the Time of Coronavirus series.

Andy Meek’s article.

Confinement and Escape: Emma Donoghue and E.L. Doctorow in Our Time of Self-Isolation

Skitterphoto (Pixabay License / Pixabay)

Emma Donoghue’s Room and E.L. Doctorow’s Homer & Langley define and confront life within limited space.

Christopher John Stephens’ article.

Solitude Stands in the Window: Thoreau’s ‘Walden’

StockSnap (Pixabay License / Pixabay)

Henry David Thoreau’s Walden as a 19th century model for 21st century COVID-19 quarantine.

Christopher John Stephens’ article.

Will COVID-19 Kill Movie Theaters?

Photo: Pixabay

Streaming services and large TV screens have really hurt movie theaters and now the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered multiplexes and arthouses. The author of The Perils of Moviegoing in America, however, is optimistic.

Gary D. Rhodes’ article.

Marc Maron’s Private Grief on a Public Stage

Press photo /

The risky healing power of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast eulogy to Lynn Shelton.

Christopher John Stephens’ article.

Isolation Odyssey: Behind the Scenes with a Lockdown Orchestra


Scattered throughout the world, members of Opera North’s orchestra share how they are enduring the loss of live performance and companionship during the COVID-19 lockdown. They also share a mood-lifting, online isolation performance of a work that everyone knows but not always for the same reasons.

Rowland Thomas’ article.

COVID-19 Means Living Life in Two Minds at Once


COVID-19 has created a day-by-day experience in which we realize there are no perfect answers, and every moment exists as a co-mingling of light and dark counterpoints.

Nick Soulsby’s article.

Work Doesn’t Always Look Like Work: In Defense of Radical Laziness During COVID-19

Pexels (Pixabay License / Pixabay)

Expecting financially devastated artists to produce during the coronavirus shutdown is akin to handing a condemned man a typewriter on his way to the gallows. To hell with that.

Ben de la Cour’s article.

Stressed About COVID-19? Seek the Tao of Coen

Jeff Bridges as The Dude in The Big Lebowski (1998) (IMDB)

“Son, you got a panty on your head.” As purveyors of gallows humor, filmmakers the Coen Brothers teach us how to laugh at things that aren’t funny — but kinda are.

Loren Kantor’s article.

The Cure’s “Seaside” Cure for Sheltering at Home

Photo: Courtesy of Global Publicity

In these times of pandemic turmoil and outright trauma, what better match does the tempestuous human soul have than the sea? And what better lyricist than the Cure’s Robert Smith, who twins the wrath (or sadness) of the sea with similar human emotions?

Alison Ross’ article.

Some of One World’s Comfort Songs Are Off-Key


One World: Together at Home and what our choice of anthems says about how we cope with a crisis.

Christopher John Stephens’ article.

I Would Like to See My Doctor: Social Distancing and Telemedicine

Kapa65 (Pixabay License / Pixabay)

My first COVID-19-era “telehealth” video call had me looking up my doctor’s nose. Who could blame him for turning his camera off?

Jennifer Companik’s article.

Willie Nile Celebrates Fans, Family, Friendship With “Under This Roof” (premiere + interview)


Willie Nile moves forward with a message of unity and love in the wake of COVID-19 and remembers friends, John Prine and Hal Willner.

Jedd Beaudoin’s article.

Brian Holcomb


On 11 April 2020 we lost longtime contributor, friend, and colleague, Brian Holcomb to COVID-19. His love for and knowledge of film has provided great pleasure to PopMatters readers since 2006. His easy-going, friendly communiques with his editors will be missed. Indeed, we last heard from Brian while he was in hospital — he emailed that his interview with director Yam Laranas about his recent film, Nightshift, would be delayed.

That Brian even thought of this self-directed assignment, and took the time to email about it while in hospital, seemed a good sign that he was recovering and would be back with us when he was ready. We would wait until then, of course.

How little we really know about life.

Like so many who have loved, known, and worked with Brian, we are heartbroken for his family, for his friends, and for ourselves. Well, Brian, your creative work, like your warm memory, lives on in all whom you’ve touched. Rest in peace, good man.

Read Brian’s work published PopMatters – since 2006 – here.

Read Brian’s Facebook page, here.

Cyberhills of Isolation and Connection: Italy in the Time of Coronavirus

Image by Engin_Akyurt (Pixabay License / Pixabay)

Ironically, the very thing many have lamented as chief atomizer of humankind, social media, has proven to be indispensable for bringing us together — and for bringing me solace while, like Boccaccio’s women in Decameron, I wait out the pandemic in the hills of Abruzzo.

Sarah Mills’ article.

Our Monsters, Ourselves

Photo: Lars_Nissen (Pixabay License / Pixabay)

Not just for devotees or scholars, The Monster Theory Reader provides a framework for understanding humans at least as much as monsters.

Jesse Kavadlo’s article.

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger’s Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Photo: Paul Erik / Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Evan Sawdey’s article.

Coronavirus Tunes: A Brief Playlist for Our Times of Self-Isolation


As coronavirus spreads throughout the world and many of us hunker down with online media, we offer eight songs that share our feeling of seclusion.

Paul Rowe’s article.

How to Listen to Your Old Music While Self-Isolating

Image from Pexels (Pixabay License / Pixabay)

There are various ways you can mine the bounty of your exquisite taste to while away an hour or two during this stressful time of coronavirus. But you’ve got to do it with some intentionality.

Mark Reynold’s article.

Matchbox Twenty: Aren’t We All a Little “Unwell” in the Time of Coronavirus?, by Joshua Friedberg

(screengrab of Matchbox 20’s “Unwell” / YouTube)

Say what you will about Matchbox Twenty – I know I once did. But during this COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all going “crazy” and feeling “a little unwell” in this time of isolation, and I’m turning to their music.

Joshua Freidberg’s article.

What Lurks Beneath: ‘Jaws’ and Political Leadership in the Time of COVID-19


Boris Johnson admires the Mayor in Spielberg’s Jaws. Remember him? He was the guy who wouldn’t close the beaches — and sacrifice that revenue source — during a public crisis.

James Baxter’s article.

Love at a Socially-Isolating Distance

Image by Elisa Riva (Pixabay License / Pixabay)

In one sense, life in the time of Coronavirus clarifies an essential element of love: love always occurs at an ontological distance.

Chadwick Jenkin’s article.

Life in the Time of Coronavirus Is No Time for False Dichotomies

Photo by leo2014 (colorized) Pixabay License / Pixabay

How unsettling and unnerving it is during these times of coronavirus, when our rational intellect suggests one set of answers, while our emotions pull us toward another.

Nick Soulsby’s article.

Nick Drake’s ‘Pink Moon’ and Finding a Place to Be During Coronavirus


Shuttered inside our homes, contending with the COVID-19 outbreak, Nick Drake’s third album promises rebirth and renewal: the pink moon is coming.

Matt McKinzie’s article.

Corona Tales: Life As an Indie Musician in 2020, by Lynne Hanson

Photo: Jen Squires / Courtesy of Skye Media

Canadian Americana artist Lynne Hanson tells her tale of the Coronavirus Blues, one of canceled tour dates and diminished revenue prospects.

Lynne Hanson’s article.

Image: csamhaber (Pixabay License / Pixabay)

See also PopMatters’ Reading Pandemics series, from faculty and students of the English Department at Northeastern Illinois University by Guest Editor, Ryan Poll.