Review: Cesarean Sections & Risk: Ongoing Evolution of a Procedure

John A. Carranza // On September 19, 2019, the website Motherly posted an article entitled “These Birth Photos Prove How Beautiful Clear Drape C-Sections Can Be.” Heather Marcoux, the author,  explained what “gentle cesarean sections” are and how they have come to transform the cesarean section procedure in contemporary medicine. Previously, the operation included physicians…

Natural Birth: An Introduction

Jennifer Edwell // Recently, there have been a number of articles by health journalists and bioethicists critiqing the concept of “natural birth.” In these projects, writers investigate where the term natural birth comes from and how it affects the way people understand and regard birth experiences (see Martucci, 2018; Tucker, 2018). For example, in May…

Medicine in the Archive: Exploring Feminism and Nursing

John A. Carranza // Being a historian comes with no better rite of passage than to enter the archive. Regardless of the time period or topic chosen by the researcher, sorting through the documents is exciting for me because I am able to engage in an imaginative and interpretative exercise where I consider why a…

Sewing the Tapestry of the History of Psychiatry: Anne Harrington’s ‘Mind Fixers’

David Robertson // Over the last twenty years, considerable scholarly contributions have been made to the history of psychiatry. We have had historical analyses of the concept of “nerves” and “neurasthenia,” of “trauma” and the emergence of diagnoses such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.[1] Historians have examined the material settings of neuropsychiatric efforts to localize brain…

Testing for Normalcy: Amniocentesis and Disability in the 1970s

John A. Carranza // “2. Pregnancy is usually a happy time. Most newborn infants are normal and healthy. Even so, parents often wonder if their unborn child will be normal.”[1] By the late 1970s, reproductive decisions and the sense of normality were challenged and redefined by the women’s liberation and disability rights movement, among others….

Review: “Quackery” highlights history of trusting medical experts

Emilie Egger // Review of Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen. Quackery: a Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything. New York: Workman Publishing Company, Inc. 2017. The publishers of Quackery promise “67 shocking but true medical misfires that run the gamut from bizarre to deadly,” and the book’s authors are well-suited to this…

The Heart of a Child

Jennifer & April Edwell // February is American Heart Month. The heart is an amazing organ that deserves our fascination and veneration. There it is tirelessly beating inside your chest right now, running on its own electricity, steady and miraculous.

A New History of Hereditary Science: ‘Genetics in the Madhouse’

David Robertson // Aided by the rapid growth of publicly available big data and internet search engines, genealogy tracing has become a hugely popular activity. But its origins are not so technologically glamorous: as historian Theodore Porter puts it, ‘The science of human heredity arose first amid the moans, stench, and unruly despair of mostly…