Reproductive Designs and the Stories Behind Them: A Review of Designing Motherhood

Today almost all IUDs (intrauterine devices) look like the letter “T,” with arms that slightly droop and a string that dangles from its trunk. When inserted, the arms press against the walls of the uterus to help prevent pregnancy, and the string dangles down into a woman’s vagina as a way to check that the… Read more →

Echo Chambers

Anthony Antonio has been charged with five crimes related to his participation in the January 6, 2021 insurrection, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. His attorney, Joseph Hurley, does not deny Antonio engaged in illegal and violent actions on that day but claims that his client suffers from “Foxitis.” As Hurley tells… Read more →

The Handmaids of Surgery: The Role of Nurse Anesthetists

Imagine the horror of waking up in the middle of your surgery – or worse, never being asleep at all. In the early days of surgery, this was a reality. Patients were awake throughout procedures, given alcohol and something to hold on to in order to endure the pain. The introduction of general anesthesia made… Read more →

Abortion Out West: An Interview with Alicia Gutierrez-Romine

Published in 2020 by the University of Nebraska Press, Alicia Gutierrez-Romine’s From Back Alley to the Border: Criminal Abortion in California, 1920–1969 tells the story of abortion during the era it was outlawed in California. We recently chatted about how Gutierrez-Romine came to the topic, the challenges of telling these women’s stories, and why California… Read more →

Diseases of Body and Soul: A Review of Philippa Koch’s The Course of God’s Providence

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but it takes a long time to write a book. It takes so long, in fact, that when a new book just happens to coincide with an eerily relevant global crisis, it presents a largely unexpected opportunity for the author to make the case for her work’s importance. All… Read more →

Screaming Over the Rubble: The Shifting Role of the Family in American Disaster Victim Identification

When the South Champlain Towers in Surfside, Florida, collapsed in the early hours of June 24, I shuddered to think about how many lives had been lost. Because of my research on the history of disaster victim identification (DVI), however, I also started thinking ahead to the recovery of the dead. I knew that the… Read more →

Midwives, Nurse Practitioners, and the Physicians Who (Still) Find Them Threatening

During the 2021 Louisiana legislative session, I took part in a campaign to eliminate an unnecessary law that has sexist, racist, and classist origins and effects. In doing so, I witnessed a striking contemporary iteration of the long patriarchal and racist history of medicine. Physicians organized a vehement response to what they viewed as a… Read more →

Addressing the Language Gap: A Review of Marvels of Medicine: Literature and Scientific Enquiry in Early Colonial Spanish America

The year of reckoning with the twin pandemics of racism and COVID-19 increasingly reminds us to attend to the relationships between health status and narrative experiences – how, for example, art and artists can express and contextualize our understanding of health experiences and inequities. Yet current research shows us the linguistic and cultural gaps still… Read more →

The Problem with Medical History in the Age of COVID-19

The pandemic has prompted a proliferation of newspaper articles, think-pieces, and other public writing on the history of medicine. Some have been quite thoughtful, offering new perspectives on the past and present of science, technology, and healthcare, and making radical suggestions for the post-coronavirus future. Others, however, have indulged some of our worst instincts about… Read more →

Mare of Easttown: Not Just Another Dead Girl Show

The HBO crime drama Mare of Easttown captivated viewers, who flocked to social media with theories about who killed Erin McMenamin. The show follows detective Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) as she investigates this and other cases in Easttown, a suburb of Philadelphia. Billed as “an authentic examination of how family and past tragedies can define… Read more →