A Few Thoughts on EVE: Danger, Desire, and Reproductive Control

Livia Arndal Woods // The possibility of divorcing reproduction from the maternal body fascinates and haunts the human imagination. The dangers of and desire for such separation – for ectogenesis – has been of particular interest in science fiction. Indeed, the oxforddictionaries.com definition of ectogenesis reads: “(chiefly in science fiction) the development of embryos in…

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…

The World We See – Part 6: Art that Moves, in More Ways than One

Lara Boyle // At first glance, Naum Gabo’s Kinetic Construction is nothing special. A thin, motionless steel rod extends from a pit located in the base of a black square. With the push of a button, however, the rod springs to life. The rod wiggles back and forth as a motor beneath the base whirs with…

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…

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”…

Speculative bodies of the present in hormonal fictions

Kathryn Cai Recently, a series of English language novels that foreground the female body reimagine and transform their hormonal traffic from biologies linked with environmental illness to speculative imaginations of diffused, inchoate influence and overt physical and political power. As studies note, the female body’s hormonal complexities render its porous interactions with the environment particularly…

The World We See, Part 3: A Study of the Women with Superhuman Sight

By: Lara Boyle December Article Summary: Last month, we followed the path of light as it raced from the sun towards the earth. The light hit objects and reflected into the eye, passing through the eye’s lens and cornea.  The lens and cornea determined how much light could enter the eye, we learned, based on…

The Long Read: Genetic Vulnerability

Sarah E. Roth The Genetics Department at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. displays hundreds of pamphlets in the waiting room, stacked at every corner table. Some of them I recognize, having revised them back in the office. The pamphlets have titles like: What is My Family Tree Telling Me? and PKU and You….

“Peeing on this ad may change your life”

By Livia Arndal Woods The January 13, 2018 episode of NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” just drew my attention to an interesting pop culture tidbit. It turns out that the Swedish women’s magazine Amelia ran an advertisement for a discount on an IKEA crib in which the price is revealed via pregnancy-test. In short, you…

Cyborgs Pt. 2: Cellular Agencies in Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea

Kathryn Cai Reviews of Chang-rae Lee’s 2014 novel On Such a Full Sea note its “bureaucratic aesthetic,”[1] its unsatisfactory narrative trajectory in which nothing seems to build, and Fan as an opaque, “monochromatic,”[2] and ultimately unsatisfactory heroine lacking in interiority,[3] particularly compared to the “adventure” heroines, such as Katniss Everdeen, that populate conventional heroic and dystopic…

Embracing the Fiction in Sci-Fi

I recently returned from the annual conference for the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. Science fiction has been, as you can imagine, a rather common theme here and I was excited to see that this year was no exception. Like last year, there was a panel…