Category: Clio Reads

Informed Transitions

Transitions can be hard, especially when one has spent decades teetering on shifting sand. With my menopause comes an emptying nest and a great and painful purge of my reproductive potential, accumulated clutter, dreams, and fears. I am 55 this year, African American, a tenured college professor, a widow, and single mother of two sons. I have… Read more →

Learning What We Do Not Know: The History and Experience of Menopause

In January 2021, I willingly underwent a procedure to implant testosterone pellets into the flesh at my hip. I had arrived at my medical provider’s clinic because of the many and varied symptoms of perimenopause that were disrupting my life. I wasn’t sleeping; I had low energy and terrible brain fog; I couldn’t regulate my… Read more →

Acting Up and Fighting Back: Stories of ACT UP

Sarah Schulman’s Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987–1993 and Peter Staley’s memoir, Never Silent: ACT UP and My Life in Activism aren’t in conversation with one another so much as they are different versions of the same story. Both focus on the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT… Read more →

When Abortion Was a Necessary Sin

Anyone tempted to make facile arguments about abortion politics, on either side of the aisle, needs to read John Christopoulos’s new book, Abortion in Early Modern Italy. The book is beautifully written and the stories in it are jaw-dropping, with nearly tabloid-worthy details about individuals’ sex lives and relationships, though handled with appropriate respect. As… Read more →

Liberal Christians in the Making of Sex Education

In the 1960s conservative Christian leaders like Billy James Hargis and his “Christian Crusade” defined the culture wars over sex education as a battle between secular liberals who wanted to teach comprehensive sex ed in the public schools, and religious conservatives who demanded silence on the subject.[1] That framing has stuck in the cultural imagination…. Read more →

You’ve Never Seen the Opioid Crisis Like This Before: A Review of Empire of Pain

It’s hard to keep up with the ever-growing body of literature on the opioid crisis, which has killed nearly as many Americans in the last two decades as the Civil War and is still getting worse. We are inundated with new books and articles to read, podcasts to listen to, and documentaries and miniseries to… 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 →

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 →

Surrender, Discovery, and Recovery: The Many Meanings of Adoption

To write about mid-twentieth century adoption practices in the United States is to position oneself at the heart of dozens of competing narratives. As explored in other texts such as Ann Fessler’s The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades before Roe v. Wade, to… Read more →

Ending the War on Science: A Review of Maya Goldenberg’s Vaccine Hesitancy

With three highly efficacious vaccines widely available for COVID-19 in the United States (which were developed in record time, breaking the record set by a mumps vaccine in the 1960s), we are beginning to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the effort to reach herd immunity and reduce the COVID-19… Read more →