Instrumentalized Images: The Trouble with Representation, Truth, and Affective Power in Histories of American Gynecology

Thanks to crucial scholarship and committed activism, recent years have witnessed increased reporting and public-facing writing about the histories of racialized violence at the crux of gynecology’s emergence in the United States. Much of this writing centers the figure of J. Marion Sims. In a media landscape that seems to demand visual accompaniment, authors and…

A Different Gaze

  Foucault was a French philosopher known for his interrogation of knowledge and structures of power. In Birth of the Clinic (1973) he described how the medical gaze arose from 18th-century dissection, which exposed ‘what for centuries had remained below the threshold of the visible and expressible’ developing further through 19th-century pathological anatomy, which reduced…

Doodling Rukhmabai Raut: Lady Doctors and the Graphic Imagination

The 22nd of November, 2022, marked Rukhmabai Raut’s 153rd birthday. In 2007, Google celebrated the birth anniversary of one of the first practicing women physicians in India with a Google Doodle. It showed a woman in a saree, stethoscope slung around her neck, against a brilliant, blazing sun, announcing perhaps a new dawn. In the…

Fractured: Form and Function in Narrative Nonfiction about Illness

When you put the search term, “medical memoir” in a Google search, you find an odd collection of “best of” lists: the ten best for pre-meds, twelve memorable, the list every aspiring physician should read, must-read memoirs about health written by women. Perhaps nothing solidifies a sub-genre quite like these lists. But as someone who…

“Caretaker Blues” and the Critic vs. the Artist

Virginia Woolf notes in her essay “On Being Ill”—written from her sick bed in 1925—that the English language has no way to convey disease’s alienating effects to the healthy. Woolf states, “English, which can express the thoughts of Hamlet, has no words for the shiver and the headache” (6). Woolf gives the example of a…

Please open with a vivid and compelling short story of a patient encounter

The textbooks that I used as a medical student in the 1990s were illustrated with photographs of real patients. I can vividly recall the images of three depicted patients, stripped naked, standing with their palms facing upwards, posed with their hands by their sides and feet shoulder width apart like Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man….

Jane Austen’s Autopsies

I confess I have not watched the much-maligned adaptation of Persuasion that dropped on Netflix yesterday. But wait, there’s more: I have never read Persuasion. I know. I know. Just as soon as I am finished here, I will slam this laptop closed in trepidation and shame and await the revocation of my English PhD….

The Spaces Between

Jac Saorsa, Artist-Residence// Recent health problems have weakened me a little … sapped my energy and left me feeling somewhat detached from the reality I have been living in. But the new reality, the different way of understanding myself has forced me, gently, to consider my own mortality from a deeply personal perspective. Two ways…