Category: Clio Reads

In Vitro Fertilization: From Science Fiction to Reality to History

It was not that long ago that “test tube babies” only existed in science fiction. I remember my shock when, in 2007, one of my students at Wellesley College told me that she was an IVF (in vitro fertilization) baby. “The technology couldn’t be that old, could it?” I thought. In The Pursuit of Parenthood:… Read more →

The Racist Misogyny behind Your “Does My Butt Look Fat in This?”: Reading Sabrina Strings’ Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia

Every so often, a book comes out that arrives as both an answer to a question and an answer to a prayer. For me, Sabrina Strings’s Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia is emphatically both. My scholarly superpower, and an annoying one it is too, is finding the holes in the… Read more →

“Our Dogged and Deadly Archnemesis”: A Review of Timothy C. Winegard’s The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator

In 2015, mosquito-borne pathogens caused approximately 830,000 deaths worldwide. Malaria alone killed 435,000 people in 2017. Statistical extrapolations suggest that mosquito-borne viruses and parasites have killed roughly half of all humans who have ever lived.1 While yellow fever, dengue, and malaria have long been the most virulent of these diseases, newer zoonotics (diseases transmitted from… Read more →

Searching for Solidarity in Madeline Miller’s Circe

Released just over a year ago, Madeline Miller’s Circe has since appeared on several bestseller lists and earned even more awards, and it makes for the perfect canon-challenging #BeachRead. The novel presents a rich array of themes, stories, and questions that push it past a simple pleasure-book. The narrative centers the mysterious figure of Circe,… Read more →

The Queer Truth: Sarah Schulman’s People in Trouble

For years, when I would tell stories of my time in 1980s San Francisco to friends or students, some of my listeners would say, “It sounds kind of like Rent.” “No,” I would say, “It’s more like Sarah Schulman’s novel People in Trouble, but San Francisco rather than New York.”1 The friends and students to… Read more →

Notes on Outrages from Reviewer #2

Naomi Wolf’s latest book, Outrages, was supposed to be released in the United States on June 18, 2019. In May 2019, BBC host Matthew Sweet had Wolf on his show and challenged her misinterpretation of a key legal term. One argument in the book is that legislative changes in 1857 institutionalized homophobia in the United… Read more →

Journey Into Mothering with Historian Sarah Knott

In Mother Is a Verb, Sarah Knott takes her reader on a historian’s journey into motherhood. It is a sort of train travelogue, riding along parallel rails: personal memoir and wide-ranging social history. The path of the narrative is dictated by the chronology of the memoir, starting with choosing to try for a pregnancy, and… Read more →

The Absence of Presence: Caroline Criado Perez’s Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

This is a book that might leave most readers frustrated about the state of things. It’s also a book that I wish didn’t need to be written but was glad I came across. Caroline Criado Perez patiently demonstrates that collecting data mostly on men and applying those findings to people in general might be erasing… Read more →

Openness and Authority in Pregnancy: Lucy Knisley’s Kid Gloves

I began reading Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos on my own due date, desperately trying to keep busy as I awaited my baby’s arrival. Lucy Knisley’s extremely honest and intensely readable graphic memoir about pregnancy and childbirth was not exactly a distraction, as the book recounts her own stories related to trying to… Read more →

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 →