Category: History

Wearable Immunity: Beauty Lessons from the Pockmarking Era

This pandemic’s “mask wars,” as with the 1918 flu pandemic and HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, have prompted reflections on how the visual cultures of disease prevention have shaped the cultures of fashion. It is timely to think again about how markers of health protection have been donned and displayed and to ask what lessons history… Read more →

Speaking Out: Joe Biden, Stuttering, and Disability Discrimination in the United States

In October 2020, CNN host Jake Tapper confronted Lara Trump for a video of what seemed to be her mocking now–President Elect Joe Biden’s stutter on the campaign trail. In the video, Lara Trump was seen saying “Joe, can you get it out? . . . Let’s get the words out, Joe. You kind of… Read more →

Irish Keens, Modern Grief, and the Digital Landscape of Mourning

In January 1833, an author known only as O’G published their musings on the Irish funeral cry, or caoine, in the Dublin Penny Journal. O’G described the cry as “the most singularly plaintive and mournful expression of excessive grief that could well be imagined.” In the article, O’G describes traveling the Irish countryside on horseback… Read more →

Oscillating and Depreciating: Early Modern Spanish Views of Unsanctioned Female Healers

Antonio asks, “Do you believe that God will burn all of the sinners forever and ever when they die?” “Si,” replies his uncle Pedro as their old truck bumbles past a brothel where several women are hanging their laundry. While Antonio makes eye contact with one of the women hanging her clothes, he asks his… Read more →

The Rejected Ones: Indian Foundlings in Colonial Portuguese Goa

In September of 1747, Rosa de Menezes went into labor in her home in the poorest quarter of Goa, the capital of Portuguese India.[1] Menezes, an Indian Christian widow, had fallen pregnant, in her own words, “due to the weakness of the human condition” (pela fragilidade de humana) – a euphemism for sex outside of… Read more →

Changing the Narrative: The Importance of Centering Choice

On September 14, Dawn Wooten, a former nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, filed a whistleblower complaint alleging there was a complete lack of protection against COVID-19. Wooten also testified that doctors at the center performed hysterectomies on detainees at alarmingly high rates. When speaking about one physician, Wooten stated, “everybody… Read more →

Rediscovering “Good” and “Bad” Heads in the Phrenological Present

It’s always a little exciting when your research area shows up in the news, especially when your work inclines to the obscure. This is even the case when the thing you study is about something better left in the past – no one should want to bring back phrenology into the present day. And yet,… Read more →

Signing for Life: Deaf Gay Activists Navigate the AIDS Epidemic, 1986–1991

Before a small crowd of journalists at San Diego’s Point Loma Hospital, through sign language and their interpreters, John Canady’s partner J.T. Tupper, and sister, Mary Noble, recounted the ordeal their loved one endured prior to his dying of AIDS at the age of 37.[1] On March 18, 1986, Canady, a deaf postal worker, had… Read more →

A Historic Intersex Awareness Day

This year’s Intersex Awareness Day, October 26, marked a historic pivot. A few days before, Boston Children’s Hospital revealed that its physicians would no longer perform certain nonconsensual infant genital surgeries on babies born with atypical genitals. They join the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, which made a similar announcement in… Read more →

The Little Suffragist Doll: Cotton, White Supremacy, and Sweet Little Dolls

What does a pattern for doll-making have to tell us about the racial and gender politics of American suffragists in the 1910s? The Little Suffragist Doll sewing pattern from 1914 seems quite simple. Her front and back printed on cotton cloth, this smiling little doll-in-waiting begs to be made three-dimensional. She is rosy-cheeked and bedecked… Read more →