Distress Call

A Medical Model I wanted to begin by expressing my gratitude for Travis’s most recent post, “Taking Stock: Disability Studies and the Medical Humanities.” There, he provides a brief and cogent outline of the ongoing negotiation between a medical model of disability–in which disability is identical to impairment–and the OG social model, where disability is... Continue Reading →

Contagious Bodies in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House

Cynthia Harris   Last month, I wrote about the third-person narrator's miasmatic thinking in Bleak House. This month, I will examine Esther’s opposing understanding of disease and human bodies as well as how these two modes of transmission converge narratively around Esther’s illness. The two narrators offer strikingly different descriptions of London, grounded in their... Continue Reading →

Review of Lindsey Fitzharris’s The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine

Livia Arndal Woods Lindsey Fitzharris’s 2017 The Butchering Art is a compelling medical biography of Joseph Lister, pioneer of antiseptic surgical theory and practice. Lister’s work, building on the germ-theories of Louis Pasteur, “Transform[ed] the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine” from a chaotic and deadly battle against seemingly inevitable infections to a more systematic and... Continue Reading →

Ontologies of Cure and Care

Last month, I wrote about a struggle I had with my participation—or lack thereof—in an Alan Kapprow Happening called “Company”. The specific instructions, written in 1982, are: A person locates a bare room and sits in it for a long time. Then she or he brings into the room a cement block and sits with... Continue Reading →

Two Babies, Two Fathers, One Pregnancy: Superfetation in Myth and Medicine

According to early modern gynecological manuals, superfetation is “a repeated conception”—a rare but real medical phenomenon when a woman who is already pregnant becomes pregnant again. The anonymous author of The English Midwife Enlarged (1682) responds to those who dispute superfetation, explaining that when a woman is “animated with an earnest desire of Copulation,” the “overheated”... Continue Reading →


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