Hope on Trial

Sarah Roth // My parents shared a broad, brown desk in their home office. In the years of my mother’s struggle with ovarian cancer, a foot of papers, envelopes, and printouts were stacked on the desk, documenting clinical trials for which she might be eligible. For a time, the desk, with its thick layer of…

Book Review: Arnold, David. Colonizing the Body: State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in Nineteenth-century India.

Yaming You // David Arnold’s Colonizing the Body sketches the history of British colonial policy of public health in India in the nineteenth century. Chapter 1 talks about how the medico-topographical reports produced by British professionals in India orientalized India’s tropical environment, which according to the then popular miasmatic theory of etiology, caused many of…

Entering the Mystery: The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness

Emily Waples // Emily Dickinson, we know, did not title her poems. But when Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas Wentworth Higginson set out to publish their first edition of Dickinson’s work in 1890, four years after her death, they took this liberty. What contemporary readers of R.W. Franklin’s edition may now know as poem #760,…

A Review of Diabetes: A History of Race & Disease

Phyllisa Deroze // As a humanities scholar with interest in the experiences of people with diabetes, I was eager to read Arleen Tuchman’s book Diabetes: A History of Race & Disease (2020). The book reads like a journey through time, each chapter uncovering new information about how American constructions of race have impacted diabetes research, treatment, diagnoses,…

Amphetamine and its discontents

Steve Server // Nicolas Rasmussen. On Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine (New York: New York University Press, 2008). It is a principle of pharmacology that one can never have on-target, desired effects without some off-target side effects.  Amphetamine is no exception to that rule.  The drug leads to higher levels of dopamine and norepinephrine…

Book Review: Hygienic Modernity: Meanings of Health and Disease in Treaty-Port China by Ruth Rogaski

Yaming You // In this book, Ruth Rogaski provides a discursive analysis of the shifting connotation of one single Chinese word—weisheng 卫生  (hygiene/sanitation)—to “place meanings of health, disease at the center of Chinese experiences of modernity” in twentieth-century China (1). As hygiene was transformed from a personal and individual practice into a public and national project of…

A Comparative Book Review—Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology & Anarcha Speaks: A History in Poems

Rachel Dudley // This comparative book review reflects my scholarly background as an interdisciplinary, feminist, health humanities thinker, and it brings together two distinct genres of writing.  These genres—medical historiography and poetry—allow readers to grapple with troubling histories of medical exploitation, cultural memory, and meaning-making in very different but equally generative ways.  In relation to…

T in the Time of Coronavirus

Diana Rose Newby // Why has COVID-19 killed more men than women? As the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 continues its global spread, infection patterns and fatality rates have prompted this question both among medical experts and in the popular media. As of late April, data confirmed this disparity in multiple regions of the world: in China,…

On Iatrogenesis

Michelle Munyikwa // “Medicine changed me, but not in the ways I expected,” Rachel Pearson writes in her memoir of medical school, No Apparent Distress. The book is Pearson’s attempt to make sense of these changes, drawing the reader from her working class childhood to her unexpected presence in medical school and the events which…