As I write this Introduction to our fall issue in May 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic rages on and the world is still under lockdown. Our quarantined life will eventually end. But we all know that our lives and the world have forever altered. The college town of Athens, OH, where I live and work, feels deserted, bereft of the 19,000 students who animate it. The campus sits on lush, verdant rolling hills of the Appalachian mountain ranges. It is piercingly beautiful in the spring. Because we are so secluded, I’ve been able to take long daily walks around the campus and the town. In what has become something of an artistic and creative exercise, I’ve taken on the role of a curator during these walks—observing, contemplating, photographing—objects made present owing to human absence. For the first time in many...

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