Death Wish: Caring for the Dead and Dying in Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia

Timothy Kent Holliday // “Dying is an art, like everything else” (Plath 245). With these words twentieth-century poet Sylvia Plath alluded to her own suicidal ideation. Death wishes of a different kind entwined in cities like Philadelphia in the 1830s, a century before Plath’s birth: the dying dreams of a patient, and the nineteenth-century anatomist’s…

The Case for the Country Doctor

Scott C. Thompson // The nineteenth-century “country doctor”—making community house calls, accepting direct and indirect payments, treating patients with a limited range of pharmaceutical and technological options—is a paradoxical figure in Victorian fiction.[1] While perceived as disconnected from the cutting edge of Western scientific and medical research taking place in urban centers (such as London,…

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,…

Macbeth and the Physician’s Terror

Emmanuel Adams // Lately, the term “impostor syndrome” has gained prominence in both popular and scientific literature. First coined in 1978 as “impostor phenomenon,” it is typically “characterized by chronic feelings of self-doubt and fear of being discovered as an intellectual fraud” within academic circles (Clance and Imes; Villwock et al.). Unlike the general academic…

Too Close for Comfort: The Familiarity of Anti-Mask Rhetoric

Haejoo Kim // Last summer, a friend was accosted by a woman as he was walking down the street to my house in Syracuse, NY. The woman was not wearing a mask and wanted him to take off his mask as well. “Look up Andrew Kaufman, MD,” she yelled, “you will learn everything you need…

Thanksgiving, Tradition, and Ted Cruz: A Public Health Crisis

John A. Carranza // On November 21, 2020, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted the cover image of a trussed and cooked turkey with a black star immediately above it and the words “Come and Take It” below. The tweet is a take on the flag used at the Battle of Gonzales in Texas, in…

Locating Emotion in Our Language and Bodies

Claire Litt // Practically speaking, heartbreak is nonsensical. We know the heart is a muscle, and that muscles do not break—they tear. Yet no despondent lover has ever laid prostrate on their bed complaining of heart tears. Though it is a muscle, the heart breaks as a bone—and the fact that we say so informs…

Transatlantic Antivaccination Campaigns: A Brief History

Samantha Allen Wright // “Will you get the new COVID-19 vaccine? Aren’t you worried about it?” As an enthusiastic supporter of vaccinations (I’m first in line for my university’s yearly flu shot drive), I get many questions from family, friends, and students on my thoughts about a potential COVID-19 vaccine. I answer these questions by…

Is the Face Mask a Muzzle? A Brief History

Don James McLaughlin// On June 26, a video began circulating of a man growling “I will not be muzzled like a mad dog” at a special meeting of the St. Lucie County Commission in Florida, held to discuss a proposal for a face mask mandate. Bared teeth notwithstanding, commissioners voted to approve the ordinance on…

Health histories from watery places: Seafaring bodies in the labour archive

Madeleine Mant // In the basement of an unassuming building on the Memorial University campus in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, lies the Maritime History Archive (MHA), curating the employment records of Britain’s Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen (RGSS). Approximately 75% of all surviving logbooks and Agreements from 1857 to 1942 and 1951 to…