Category: History

The Miscarriage of Frida Kahlo

To say that Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is one of the world’s most recognizable artists is an understatement. In recent decades, the Mexican artist has been transformed into a pop culture icon and face of a movement critics have coined “Fridamania.” Julie Taymor’s 2002 biopic Frida, starring Salma Hayek and adapted from Hayden Herrera’s 1983 biography… Read more →

Simple Goiter: A Woman’s Disease and a Woman’s Problem to Solve

Most people have a small, butterfly-shaped gland in their neck sitting in front of their trachea. I am no longer one of them. Almost seven years ago I had my thyroid surgically removed along with several lymph nodes and (thankfully) all of the cancer that caused unusual swelling in the gland. Realizing that I knew… Read more →

In 19th-Century Philadelphia, Female Medical Students Lobbied Hard for Mutual Aid

In the waning years of the nineteenth century, future doctors kept falling sick. Students at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP) in Philadelphia regularly described the illnesses roiling their ranks. In diaries and other manuscripts relating their classroom triumphs, clinical foibles, and romantic entanglements, students recounted classmates who were wracked with pneumonia or delirious… Read more →

Every Second Counts: Obsessive Achievement in The Bear, Sports, and Academia

This summer my research collided with one of my favorite TV shows, The Bear, in which talented, sexy, and emotionally tortured chef Carmy returns home to Chicago to run a sandwich shop with his family and (eventually) chosen-family staff. In the much watched and highly rated second season this June, the team closes the shop,… Read more →

How Safe Haven Laws Fail to Protect Children and Parents

The Alabama Senate recently passed a bill that expands Safe Haven Laws, which permit the surrender of newborns at designated sites like fire stations and hospitals, to allow the use of “baby boxes” across the state. Supporters argue that these “baby boxes,” which look like mail slots equipped with cushions and alarms inside, offer safer… Read more →

(Still Being) Sent Away: Post-Roe Anti-Abortion Maternity Homes

In the years before Roe v. Wade, and in a context of severe stigma of out-of-wedlock pregnancies, maternity homes in the United States housed residents who, upon giving birth, often relinquished their children for adoption. One consequence of the legalization of abortion in 1973 was that fewer American women and girls were “sent away” to… Read more →

“I Don’t Have Very Much Faith in Doctors”: Black Women, Reproductive Health, and Black Disability Politics

In January 2022, my Instagram feed was flooded with posts mourning Aubrion Rogers, a 30-year-old Black woman who died after her endometriosis went untreated for years. When she was rushed to emergency surgery, doctors removed a burst right ovary, appendix, endometriosis, and fibroids. In 2021, she shared on Facebook: “At what point will my situation… Read more →

Shakespeare Knew What Modern Science Tells Us: Disability Discrimination is Fueled by Disgust

Recently, literary scholars have demonstrated how the works of William Shakespeare can serve as a fantastic tool for teaching and analyzing social justice: his plays offer significant commentary on many categories of marginalized personal identity, including gender, sexuality, and race. I am a disabled scholar and teacher of Shakespeare, so I’m interested in the depiction… Read more →

Wear a Mask or Go to Jail

In the fall of 1918, seven young people were photographed wearing masks lined up near a railroad track in Mill Valley, California. One woman wore a sign around her neck: “Wear a Mask or Go To Jail.” The catalog record associated with the photograph lists the date, November 3, 1918, the photographer, Raymond Coyne, the… Read more →

“Better…at the Bottom of the Sea”?: Affect, Agency, and the Archive at Holloway Sanatorium

In August 1889, an English woman named Charlotte S. experienced a depressive episode marked by religious delusions. Convinced there “was no hope for her in Eternity,” the once “strong, healthy [and] active” fifty-five year old was certified insane[1] and institutionalized at Holloway Sanatorium.[2] When patients were admitted to Holloway, staff recorded their personal details in… Read more →