Category: History

The Lady with the Alligator Purse

A Tisket a Tasket, Three Little Fishies, Baa Baa Black Sheep — these nursery rhymes were an integral part of my childhood experience. The rhyme that most captured my attention when I was a child, however, was Miss Lucy Had a Baby: Particularly fascinating to me were not the presence of the nurse, doctor, or… Read more →

Mange, Morphine, and Deadly Disease: Medicine and Public Health in Red Dead Redemption 2

Spoiler warning: This essay discusses major plot points about the ending of Red Dead Redemption 2. It’s dead midnight, there’s moonlight on the corn, and Thomas Downes owes me money. He protests he doesn’t have anything to spare, but I insist he does, and so we end up wrestling against the wood fence. Then, bruised… Read more →

Teaching Abélard and Héloïse

One of the wearying inevitabilities of 2018 was that even the most cursory glance at the news was likely to bring you a fresh tale of sexual assault — in politics, the entertainment industry and, closer to home for me, academia. Much of the resulting commentary was almost as jarring as the news articles themselves…. Read more →

Manly Firmness: It’s Not Just for the 18th Century (Unfortunately)

The references to “manly firmness” are everywhere in late-18th-century political sources. For example, Edward Dilly wrote to John Adams from London in 1775 to praise the men in the Continental Congress, “for the Wisdom of their Proceedings — their Unanimity, and Manly firmness.” In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson listed the crimes of the… Read more →

Femininity and Legitimacy: Policing Women and “Witches” in Post-Apartheid South Africa

One night in the late spring of 2008, in the South African town of Mondlo, an assembly of neighbors brought 72-year-old Ntombikayise Zulu to tribal court. The neighbors suspected she wanted to kill them after they had killed her “familiar” — a squirrel who hunted chickens. Zulu, who tearfully claimed that she never practiced witchcraft,… Read more →

Emigration as Epidemic: Perspectives on the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Highlands

In our digital age, the contagion metaphor is often part of the language we use regarding the exchange of information. The most popular videos go “viral” online. We share culturally-relevant “memes” via social media that spread like the common cold. But such metaphors are nothing new, especially when applied to migration. As medical knowledge developed… Read more →

Colonial Colette: From Orientalism and Egyptian Pantomime to Polaire’s Jamaican “Slave”

I first read excerpts of Colette’s Sido in my IB French class in 2007, so when the recent biopic starring Keira Knightley and produced by Wash Westmoreland came out, I knew that I had to see it. Colette was one of the most prolific French writers of the early twentieth century, well known for her… Read more →

Quacks, Alternative Medicine, and the U.S. Army in the First World War

During the First World War, the Surgeon General received numerous pitches for miraculous cures for sick and wounded American soldiers. Ranging from anti-sea sickness remedies to complex elixirs for treating diseases like tuberculosis and venereal disease, America’s “quack” and non-traditional medical practitioners sought a seat at the table. Serving as a barrier between established medical… Read more →

My So-Called Life: Angela Chase, Body Image, and Teen Angst

In August 1994, ABC aired the pilot episode of My So-Called Life, and for the first time I felt that a television show spoke directly to me. I was fifteen, self-conscious, and searching for identity in a rural suburb of Lansing, Michigan. Shows such as Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place obsessed over affluence, sexuality,… Read more →

If You See Something, Say Something: Imperial Origins of White Women’s Modern Racial Profiling

In 2018, confrontations between white women and people of color in the United States have become viral news bytes emblematic of widespread systemic racial profiling. Journalists, attorneys, civil rights activists, and armchair social media commentators point to the cases involving BBQ Becky, Permit Patty, and Golfcart Gail as examples of deep-seated beliefs in white female… Read more →