Upon the Arraignment, Condemnation, and Execution of Elizabeth Stile, 1579

Kate Bolton Bonnici // Elizabeth Stile was executed in England for witchcraft in February 1579. In what follows, I consider an anonymous “news of the day” pamphlet about her case, using critical poetry as scholarly method. (This pamphlet is part of a larger genre of 16th/17th-century writing on witchcraft trials.) I concentrate on the description…

The Shifting Politics of Diagnosis: From Problem Patients to Niche Consumers

Sara Press // In 1851, the prominent American surgeon and psychologist Dr. Samuel A. Cartwright published an alarming report in the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal: a disease had become increasingly prevalent among the South’s Black population and was causing slaves to run away from their white masters.[1] Cartwright coined this disease “drapetomania.” While the…

Technology, Paranoia, and the Therapeutic Encounter

“This isn’t therapy, what we’ve done. We’ve erased things.” — Heidi Bergman, Homecoming (TV version).  Roanne Kantor and Anna Mukamal // This fall I had the pleasure of teaching a course on intersections between disability and technology. In putting together the syllabus, I quickly noticed that one of the most potent sites for this question…

“bodies mutilated for the nation”: Reproductive Rights and Women of Color Across Time

Sydnee Wagner and Alicia Andrzejewski // “Colonizers want land, but indigenous bodies forming nations are in the way because they form a strong attachment to land and because they replicate indigeneity…[the colonizers] see Indigenous women’s and girls’ bodies as the bodies that reproduce nations”—Leanne Betasamosake Simpson Introduction Our title’s opening quote, “bodies mutilated for the…

Intersex Erasure & the Myth of the “One True Sex”

Diana Rose Newby // My place was not marked out in this world that shunned me, that had cursed me. (Barbin 3) Content Warning: suicide, sexual abuse Herculine Barbin was twenty-one when she was forced to change her sex. Assigned female at her birth in 1838 in southwestern France, Barbin grew up identifying as such until…

The Then and There of Transmasculine Pregnancy

The first epigraph above is taken from the climactic scene in Thomas Middleton’s play, More Dissemblers Besides Women (1614), in which a Page swoons and calls out for a midwife after rigorous dancing lessons. Cinquepace, the speaker, assumes a miracle, an upside-down world, a strange case, and that a woman must have impregnated the Page—all of which allow for the possibility a young man could be pregnant (5.2.224-29). The audience has more insight into this moment, however. In the first scene of the play, Lactantio recognizes the Page as a former lover in disguise, and the Page informs Lactantio they are “with child” (1.2.142). (Because the Page is given no names other than Page or Antonio in the play, I refer to them throughout this piece with they/them pronouns). Over the course of More Dissemblers Besides Women, the Page waits in vain for Lactantio to marry them, while the other characters perceive the Page as “sweet a breasted page as ever lay at his master’s feet in a truckle-bed” (1.4.100-3). Even after the Page goes into labor, Cinquepace is none the wiser and exits the stage “supporting the Page” (1069).

A social and scientific history of hormones

Kathryn Cai // In her forthcoming book Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything (June 2018), Randi Hutter Epstein faces a daunting challenge in charting the history of hormonal science from the late nineteenth to the twenty-first century United States. Beginning with the freak shows of the 1890s, which Epstein…