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‘The time is out of joint’: temporality, COVID-19 and graphic medicine
  1. Sathyaraj Venkatesan,
  2. Ishani Anwesha Joshi
  1. Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Institute of Technology Tiruchirappalli, Tiruchirappalli, India
  1. Correspondence to Ms Ishani Anwesha Joshi, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Institute of Technology Tiruchirappalli, Tiruchirappalli 620015, India; ishanianweshajoshi097{at}


This article aims to theorise the human experiences of time during the lockdown (in the first phase of the pandemic) and the COVID-19 pandemic through the verbo-visual exposition of graphic medicine that combines the medium of comics and healthcare. The event of the pandemic has not only bifurcated our perception of time in terms of a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ but also complicated our awareness and experience of time. Put differently, an epochal transformation caused by pandemics has shifted our temporal experience from the calendar/clock time to a queer time situated outside of formal time-related constructions. The pandemic also implies a dismantling and rearranging of the fundamental structures of time within which human beings interacted with the world. Such a discontinuity in the linear trajectory of chronological time engenders an epistemic and ontological reconfiguration of the very sense of time itself. Through a phenomenological close reading of various sequential comics, single panelled images and graphic medical narratives, this article investigates how visual narratives in the form of comics communicate the passage of time. Categorically speaking, pandemic graphic narratives on time draw attention to stagnation, repetition, acceleration, loss of referentiality and the queerness (strangeness) of pandemic time. The article argues that a shift in the perception of time precipitates an altered spatio-temporal awareness that informs postpandemic discourses and power structures.

  • graphic medicine
  • COVID-19
  • comics and medicine

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  • Contributors The manuscript has been revised to address the reviewer comments, which are appended alongside our responses to this letter. The revision has been developed in consultation with the coauthor, and the coauthor has given approval to the final form of the revision. Both the authors have equally contributed to the paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.