Understanding Shaming’s Place in History: The Story of Germany’s Victims

It can be difficult for those who have never experienced sexual violence to understand and address the pain of survivors. From the women who’ve chosen to come forward and report instances of abuse in the entertainment industry as part of the #MeToo Movement, to less publicized cases in which women make the brave choice to… Read more →

A Bloody Sweater and a Pair of Dentures

Private Togo Piper didn’t have many personal belongings. When he died overseas in May 1943, all that was returned to his family were a few photographs, letters, toiletries… and a pair of dentures. This came as a bit of a surprise to his widow, Julia. To her knowledge, her husband had been in possession of… Read more →

“Immoderate Menses” or Abortion? Bodily Knowledge and Illicit Intimacy in an 1851 Divorce Trial

In 1851, four years after actress Josephine Clifton’s death, she was named as one of Edwin Forrest’s adulterers during the American actor’s divorce trial. Forrest was an established transatlantic celebrity who exemplified rugged American masculinity in both his roles and celebrity persona. In 1849, Forrest’s rivalry with English thespian William Charles Macready inspired the deadly… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news States of immunity. A Georgian guide to university life. What if we didn’t dread menopause? The favorite occult remedy of the Puritans. Drugs and politics of consumption in Japan. Before Anne Frank, there was Renia Spiegel. National parks sometimes have the best trash. When… Read more →

“A Most Damnable Fraud?” Public (Mis)conceptions and the Insanity Defense

James Kahler murdered his two daughters, ex-wife, and grandmother in Kansas on Thanksgiving in 2009. Kahler’s defense team wanted to use an insanity plea, but Kansas is one of only four states that does not allow for this defense. Quickly, the focus of his trial shifted from the question of his mental health to a… Read more →

“The Egg” in the Twenty-First Century: A Family’s Holistic Healing and Cleansing Practice

In the early 2000s, my great-aunt performed a holistic healing act on my mother with an egg. My mother, sick and feverish in bed, hadn’t kept food down for days. My grandmother called her sister, my madrina at the time, and asked that she come perform the ritual — “the egg,” as we called it… Read more →

“Who but Women Should Manage It?”: Convalescent Home Matrons and Medical Recuperation

Today we often hear reports about women’s invisible labor. Female family members do the lion’s share of housework and caregiving — not just for their own children, but for any household member. Given that such caregiving takes time, often drawing women away from wage-earning jobs, this care is likely one source of wage discrepancies between… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news The lost art of sin-eating. San Francisco’s plague years. On the history of the artificial womb. The fatphobic myth behind baby fat. How to lose weight like a chess player. The revolutionary history of mooncakes. Lobotomy, science, and the digital humanities.  The many faces… Read more →

Evidence Written in Blood: Forensic Science and the True Crime Consumer

According to reports, in December 2001 Michael Peterson found his wife, Kathleen Peterson, dead at the bottom of a set of stairs in their Durham home. While locals like me remember the hullabaloo that followed, true crime fans became familiar with the case through a multipart French documentary, The Staircase, which Netflix renewed for five… Read more →

Uncovering the History of Child Psychiatry: A Conversation with Deborah Blythe Doroshow

I recently had the pleasure of talking to Deborah Doroshow about her new book, Emotionally Disturbed: A History of Caring for America’s Troubled Children, which explores the development of Residential Treatment Centers (RTCs) for “emotionally disturbed” children. The book does a masterful job of explaining how this new category of mental illness came into being… Read more →