Category: Clio Reads

The Family Roe and the Messy Reality of the Abortion “Jane Roe” Didn’t Get

I almost didn’t read The Family Roe: An American Story by Joshua Prager. When I saw the premise – a biography of Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, and her family – I wasn’t immediately sure why I should care. I study the broad-scale social history of reproductive health and I had… Read more →

Healthy by Design? Reflections on The Topography of Wellness by Sara Jensen Carr

If the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated a unique ability to muddle our perceptions of time, it has also made us acutely aware of space and movement. Working from home, like so many others, I find myself counting down the hours to the words “HOT GIRL WALK” in my list of daily tasks. Lucky enough to… Read more →

A Love Letter to Intellectual Mothers

Marga Vicedo’s Intelligent Love: The Story of Clara Park, Her Autistic Daughter, and the Myth of the Refrigerator Mother is a love letter to intellectual mothers. And Vicedo’s warm and astute delivery exemplifies the blending of love and intellect Vicedo discerns in her subject, Clara Park. The book is centered around Park, whose odyssey of… Read more →

What Does It Mean to Have a “Real Choice” about Abortion?

What does it mean to have a “real choice” about abortion? I am writing this book review as the Supreme Court hears arguments over Mississippi’s law banning abortion after 15 weeks of gestation, and it could seem like the wrong time for arguing the subtleties of this question. Abortion may become flat-out illegal throughout the… Read more →

Matrix: Lauren Groff’s Visions of the Medieval

The title of Lauren Groff’s ambitious new novel, Matrix, is deliberately multivalent. In Latin, it points us toward the leader and mother of a women’s religious community. It also means a system of categorizing and understanding knowledge, a system within which things come into being. Among other things, the novel is a Bildungsroman for its… Read more →

Vanguard: The Fights that Connect Black Women Activists across More Than Two Centuries

My undergraduate and MA adviser, Dr. Angela Howard, argued that women across time and space often have remarkably similar experiences if you zero in on major events in their lives. These include first marriages, first babies, menopause, or widowhood. She encouraged me to compare women at these moments of their lives even if they occurred… Read more →

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 →