Category: Clio Reads

Eugenics Was Wrong Even When It Got It Right

Ann Leary’s 2022 novel The Foundling follows a young white woman, Mary Engle, who in the 1930s lands a job as secretary to Dr. Agnes Vogel. The fictional Dr. Vogel is the founder and director of the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age, an institution based on many real-life institutions, including one… Read more →

History, Ghosts & Jokes: A Review of Ghost Church

I first went to a medium for the same reason probably everyone does: I hoped to speak to the dead. My brother had recently and unexpectedly died, and our family was in crushing grief. Perhaps a medium, we hoped, could give us some reassurance that he was safe on the “other side.” That’s what first… Read more →

Relationships Matter: Roth on H. Yumi Kim, Madness in the Family: Women, Care, and Illness in Japan

Before professional medical care became widely available, mental illness was often viewed as a personal malady with social impacts. Mental illness did not spread to others like contagious diseases could, yet it still affected those around the mentally ill individual. Families were often the first to experience how mental illness shaped someone’s behavior and interactions… Read more →

Which Foods Aren’t Disgusting? On Carla Cevasco’s Violent Appetites

It has been a privilege to read Violent Appetites, the latest installment of a debate about hangriness that unfolded at Nursing Clio in 2017. At that time, Carla Cevasco and I agreed about the importance of recovering the myriad meanings of hunger in the eighteenth century and disagreed over who experienced “hangriness” – the sensation… Read more →

Menstrual Advocacy Is Flowing and Flowering

When I was researching my first book, The Modern Period: Menstruation in Twentieth-Century America (2009), one of the most frequent questions I got was a skeptical “why are you writing about that?” So when I started fielding frequent calls from reporters around 2015, it was a surprise. They had the impression that the world had… Read more →

Family Connections: Melissa Fu’s Peach Blossom Spring

“To know a story is to carry it always, etched in his bones, even if dormant for decades.” (Melissa Fu, Peach Blossom Spring, 4) These days, it feels like every other historical fiction novel is about World War II. Many of these are written by women authors and focus on female characters. Whether these characters… Read more →

Reckoning with the History of Racial Marketing of Menthol Cigarettes

In Pushing Cool, Dr. Keith Wailoo presents a sixty-year history of menthol cigarettes becoming a racialized product. Wailoo has written a number of essential books on race, racism, and health since the 1990s, including Pain: A Political History and How Cancer Crossed the Color Line. This is the first of Wailoo’s books to deal with… Read more →

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 →