Tag: women

Complicating the Canon of the First World War: A Review of Ellen La Motte’s Backwash of War, edited by Cynthia Wachtell

Think back on any syllabi of the First World War and the literature represented in it. For me, those titles included Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, and Frederick Manning’s The Middle Parts of Fortune, or poets like Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, and Laurence Binyon. Indeed,… Read more →

Japan’s Once and Future Female Emperors

With the abdication today of the Japanese emperor, Akihito, and the passage of the throne to his son, talk has emerged yet again about the future of Japan’s imperial family and its insistence on male dynastic succession. But would it be so revolutionary to put a woman on the throne? History tells us no. In… Read more →

Hallmark Christmas Movies: Guilty Pleasure or Feminist Rallying Cry?

A woman arrives in a small American town at Christmas time. Possibly her car has broken down, or she’s there on business, or to take a job she (initially) does not want, or she’s deliberately seeking the traditional festive comforts of a small town during the holidays. (It might be that she grew up there,… Read more →

How the “Advisory State” Shapes American Bodies and Politics: A Conversation with Rachel Louise Moran

In her new book Governing Bodies: American Politics and the Shaping of the Modern Physique, historian Rachel Louise Moran examines the U.S. government’s efforts to influence citizen bodies, not through legislation or overt force, but through what Moran calls “the advisory state.” This political control stemmed from a “subtle but powerful … repertoire of governing… Read more →

Searching for a Warm Home: Women and the Italian Refugee Crisis of World War I

In a 1918 article about aid programs for refugee women and children in Italy, Ernesta Fasciotti recalled an encounter with a family she could not forget, describing her impression of a refugee woman: “a true lady, fine and delicate, who was carrying at her breast a newborn of a few months, and had clinging to… Read more →

The Proof of Pregnancy

In February 1819, the Caswell County Superior Court in North Carolina tried three white women for infanticide. At issue was the state of the remains: whether the body was of a fetus or child. The accused birth mother, Sarah Jeffreys, initially denied her pregnancy but upon repeated questioning acknowledged “she had lost something but she… Read more →

When Pain is Political: Paulette Nardal and Black Women’s Citizenship in the French Empire

October 12 marks the 122nd anniversary of the birth of Martinican writer and intellectual Paulette Nardal. It also marks 79 years since Nardal survived one of the first maritime attacks of World War II. She was travelling from the then-French colony of Martinique to Paris when her ship was torpedoed by a German U-Boat. Her… Read more →

The Angel of the Workhouse: The Body, and the Body Politic, of Victorian Women with Disabilities

On September 12, 1846, a poet-prince married a “rather plain, thin, faded, hysterical woman [who] was loved for herself as perhaps none of all the world’s famous beauties has ever been.” Perhaps that rather dramatic description is not an entirely fair account of the elopement of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett, but their readers’ continued… Read more →

Pinkie, Your Hospital Pal! Or, Why I Bought a Weird Old Hand Puppet on eBay

I met Pinkie just as I was nearing the end of my M. Louise Carpenter Gloeckner, M.D. Summer Research Fellowship at the Drexel University College of Medicine’s Legacy Center. I had already spent several weeks combing through the archives of Hahnemann University and Woman’s Medical College, looking for details about the history of doctors’ wives,… Read more →

When Legs and Arms Won: The Culture of Dissection and the Role of the Camera at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania

In Fall 1906, three weeks into their freshman year, Elizabeth Cisney-Smith and her classmates were, as she wrote, “initiated” to the dissecting room of The Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP), one of the nation’s first degree-granting medical schools for women.1 Per tradition, a crowd of upperclassmen assembled in the third floor hall, just outside… Read more →