Category: Clio Reads

Past Practices: A Review of Ruth MacKay’s Life in a Time of Pestilence: The Great Castilian Plague of 1596–1601

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a number of historians of medicine and other scholars have written and given interviews about past public health crises. E. Thomas Ewing’s look at how newspapers focused on kissing during the 1918 influenza outbreak suggested that the emphasis on kissing via handkerchief 100 years ago signaled potentially troubling questions for… Read more →

Accessibility in America Past and Present

Bess Williamson’s Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design is a thought-provoking and edifying look at the shifting culture around disability and the design of our built environment in the United States from post-World War II to the present. I was interested to read the book both because I have a longstanding scholarly interest… Read more →

Writing Black Women’s Stories in French: A Review of A Decolonial Feminism and Reimagining Liberation: How Black Women Transformed Citizenship in the French Empire

Since January 2011, an archived rendition of the “Anthem of the Movement for the Liberation of Women” (MLF) has garnered more than 300,000 views on YouTube. The song was collaboratively written by MLF leaders and sung for the first time in March 1971 to commemorate the lives of the women who died during the Parisian… Read more →

Bottled Racism: A Review of Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice by Andrea Freeman

In recent years, the black maternal and fetal health crisis has been front page news, and for good reason. Black women die from pregnancy complications at three times the rate of white women, and the black infant mortality rate is more than double that of all other ethnic groups. Due to racism in the medical… Read more →

Between a Soft Rock and a Hard Place: A Review of Karen Tongson’s Why Karen Carpenter Matters

Early in her new book Why Karen Carpenter Matters, Karen Tongson reports that a karaoke machine in the Philippines once presented the key phrase from the Carpenters’ 1970 song “We’ve Only Just Begun” as “whiteness and promises” instead of “white lace and promises.”1 Sometimes, Tongson suggests, getting something “wrong” can be a very powerful mode… Read more →

What to Read in a Pandemic

Nursing Clio editors and writers share their favorite books on disease, social anxiety, and resilience to help you get through COVID-19. Cassia Roth: Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks details a year in the life of an English town during a plague epidemic. Its protagonist, Anna Frith, will take you along on her terrifying, and… Read more →

Sperm Donor Siblings Speak Their Truths

In Random Families: Genetic Strangers, Sperm Donor Siblings, and the Creation of New Kin, sociologists Rosanna Hertz and Margaret Nelson ask what it means for children to be related to each other via a sperm donor. In their rendering, this is not merely a theoretical question up for philosophical debate. What is so brilliant about… Read more →

“I Would Rather Die”: A Review of Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland

On April 27 of last year, sociologist and psychiatrist Jonathan M. Metzl was at a public reading for his new book, Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland, when a group of megaphone-wielding “identitarians” interrupted him. They offered up a cringe-inducing nativist political platform and chanted “this land is… Read more →

The “Textile Memoir”: A Review of Threads of Life by Clare Hunter

I read this beautiful book as slowly as possible because I desperately did not want it to end. Part memoir and part history, Clare Hunter’s Threads of Life: A History of the World Through The Eye of A Needle (Abrams Press, 2019) is a gorgeous exploration of needlework in its contemporary and historical context that… Read more →

Celebrating the Fourth Age: Mapping Menopause with Curiosity and Love

Darcey Steinke’s Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life is a beautiful and complex book grappling with the experience of menopause. The author interweaves research with her personal experience. What is menopause? What should it be? From the deep discomforts of sleeplessness and hot flashes to her eventual landing place that one… Read more →