Part I: Political Pregnancies in the Italian City States

Claire Litt // In early modern Italy, there was enormous pressure on noblewomen to produce healthy male children. The security of ruling families’ lines of succession (and the political stability of the city-states they ruled) were often precariously dependant on the reproductive health of only one or two women who married into each family. For…

Bizarre Plots to Bezoars Stones: Poisons and Antidotes in Medici Florence

Claire Litt // On February 8th, 1548 a ciphered letter addressed to Duke Cosimo I reported that “The Farnesi every day try new practices to kill Don Ferrando [Gonzaga] with poison” (Medici Archive Project Doc ID# 5407). By the mid-16th century in Italy, the brazen daylight attacks that characterized assassinations of political leaders in previous…

An Elegy to Breastfeeding, from Titus Andronicus to Now

Alicia Andrzejewski // I nurse my daughter for the last time. She is fifteen months old. I hear her sharp cry at 6:10, and, as my partner checks his phone, I rush to grab a glass of water and walk through our five-foot hallway to her. She stands in her crib, expectant, and offers her…

Flayed Animal Bodies: Cats and Pregnancy from 16th Century—Present

Alicia Andrzejewski // “If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a non-working cat.”—Douglas Adams In The Animal That Therefore I Am (2008), Derrida writes of “seeing oneself seen naked under a gaze”—his female cat’s gaze, in particular—“behind which there remains a bottomlessness, at…