Category: Culture

On Poverty, Morality, and Mothering

In 1930, nineteen-year-old black (preta) Jovelina Pereira dos Santos, a live-in domestic servant in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, hid her pregnancy from her family and employers, gave birth in secret, and asphyxiated her newborn immediately after delivery. Santos already had a young son named Ernesto who was a little over one year of age. Santos… Read more →

Microwave Cookbooks: Technology, Convenience & Dining Alone

The microwave is celebrating its 50th birthday this year, but even that can’t redeem the innumerable copies of microwave cookbooks you’ll find discarded at thrift shops. Recently, while scanning the musty smelling shelves for vintage copies from Julia Child and James Beard, I finally gave into my curiosity and purchased a small corpus of five… Read more →

Pornography on the Playground

When I was 19, I had a summer job supervising a playground. It was a pretty lame job. It paid $5 an hour, and it was outside in the sticky summer heat. The hours alternated between utter boredom and the kind of excitement I’d rather avoid – breaking up shouting matches, figuring out whether the… Read more →

Our Favorite Podcasts

  This week, we brought you interviews with the historians behind two new history podcasts, Dig and Sexing History. Today we polled our editors and writers: what are you listening to?  What is your favorite history podcast? Averill Earls: For indie podcasts, obviously Dig: A History Podcast. For people who get paid to podcast, Stuff You Missed in… Read more →

Iron Man and the Science Fiction of Disability

In March 2015, a YouTube video sponsored by Microsoft’s #CollectiveProject made the social media rounds. In this video a well-known bionics expert presented a seven-year-old boy born without most of his right arm with a 3D-printed bionic arm created by engineering student Albert Moreno. As of today, the video currently has 10,447,323 views on YouTube…. Read more →

No Excuses: The 21st-Century Supercrip in Three Snapshots

In the past decade, the landscape of commercial fitness has changed drastically. It has become less dependent on stationary exercise machinery, and instead emphasizes free weights. CrossFit gyms and obstacle course races (OCR) such as Tough Mudder and Spartan Race have become mainstream fitness options. Both CrossFit and OCR have a paramilitary ethos and randomized training…. Read more →

“Witness the ‘Wall of Genitals’”: Anatomical Display at Brooklyn’s House of Wax

Located in the lobby of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Brooklyn, the House of Wax is a dimly lit bar decorated with more than 100 anatomical, pathological, and ethnographic wax models. Once part of Castan’s Panopticum, a popular attraction in Berlin from 1869 to 1922, the models were purchased last year by collector Ryan Matthew… Read more →

Safe Spaces: Not Just for College Campuses

While teaching the US history survey in 2013, I planned a lecture based on Danielle McGuire’s fantastic book on how sexual assault played a role in civil rights organizing. But I knew that I had a student in class whose attacker was going on trial for her rape at the end of the semester. I… Read more →

Mary, Did You Know?: An Essay on Christmas Carols, Medical History, and Reproductive Politics

The Christmas season is a curious time for a historian of women’s health, abortion, and maternal politics: at its historical and religious core, the holiday revolves around the legend of an unusual pregnancy and a remarkable birth. The miracle of Christmas, in the Christian tradition familiar to many Americans today, is not only the birth… Read more →

White Woman in Blackface as a Black Man in a White Coat? Scary.

Here’s a frank, perhaps surprising, and definitely disheartening admission: nothing you read here should be new to you. It’s been said a million times before. During Halloween weekend a white person at the University of Oregon appeared at an off-campus party in blackface. This distasteful and offensive act was distinctive only in its details —… Read more →