My research and teaching interests encompass the history of British and American medicine and public health in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly the history of urban public health; the intersections between health, housing, environment, and poverty; and the relationships between therapeutics, epistemology, and professional identity.
My current book project, tentatively titled Between Hospital and Home: Convalescent Care from Nightingale to the National Health Service, examines the social and cultural history of convalescent institutions in nineteenth- and twentieth-century England and the evolution of convalescence as a philanthropic and medical concern during this period. I examine how philanthropic ideologies, geographic imaginaries, spatial arrangements, therapeutic practices, and material cultures shaped the meanings and experiences of convalescence–a category of care which was attractive to philanthropists and medical reformers because it offered the promise of reconciliation between economic progress and social dislocation, industrialization and individual health, and urban disruption and family stability. By adopting the architectural rhetoric, spatial arrangements, and decorative practices of middle-class and genteel houses, convalescent homes sought not only to create environments conducive to their patients’ recovery, but also to inculcate the habits of domesticity and the values of liberal citizenship. At the same time, convalescent homes functioned as technologies of place that harnessed the therapeutic benefits of rural and seaside climates for the treatment of urban hospital patients. This research sheds new light on the evolution of the modern hospital, the role of therapeutic landscapes and spaces, and medico-philanthropic responses to the problems of urban health and housing.
Ph.D., History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University (2017)
B.A., Social Studies, Harvard College (2008)
- “‘So delightful a temporary home’: The Material Culture of Domesticity in Nineteenth-century English Convalescent Institutions.” The Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences (June 2021), https://doi.org/10.1093/jhmas/jrab017.
- “‘A Plea for the Lancet’: Bloodletting, Therapeutic Epistemology, and Professional Identity in Late Nineteenth-century American Medicine.” Social History of Medicine 29, no. 4 (2016): 781–801, https://doi.org/10.1093/shm/hkw026.
- Review of Sickness in the Workhouse: Poor Law Medical Care in Provincial England, 1834-1914, by Alistair Ritch. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences (2021), https://doi.org/10.1093/jhmas/jrab021.
- Review of Smell Detectives: An Olfactory History of Nineteenth-Century Urban America, by Melanie A. Kiechle. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, https://doi.org/10.1093/jhmas/jry017.
- "The Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, London, England.” Medical History 58, no. 1 (2014): 142–143, https://doi.org/10.1017/mdh.2013.84.
- “Locating Convalescence in Victorian England,” REMEDIA (2014), http://remedianetwork.net/2014/11/07/locating-convalescence-in-victorian....
- WRPR 188 Epidemics and Society (Fall 2021/2022)
Epidemic diseases are often imagined as microscopic germs unleashing devastation as they traverse the globe. But epidemics are not merely biological phenomena; they are shaped by society, culture, and popular representation. As historian Charles Rosenberg has argued, epidemics often take on “the quality of pageant—mobilizing communities to act out propitiatory rituals that incorporate and reaffirm fundamental social values and modes of understanding.” How do individuals and the media construct narratives to make sense of epidemic outbreaks? How do cultural assumptions, political ideologies, and popular representations influence medical, social, and governmental responses to epidemics? This writing course examines cultural responses to epidemics, considering how ideas about race, class, gender, sexuality, and national identity inflect responses to disease outbreaks; the social and cultural implications of outbreak narratives; and the ways in which responses to epidemic disease both reflect and constitute the boundaries of political communities. Guided by these questions, students will develop their skills in close reading, clear writing, and crafting effective arguments.
- HLTH H206 Health and Medicine in Modern American History (Spring 2022/2023)
This course explores the history of medicine, health, and healing in the modern United States. We will examine the evolution of the American medical profession from the competitive medical marketplace of the nineteenth-century to the contemporary organization of healthcare and biomedicine. The course will grapple with major major questions, including: how have race, class, and gender shaped medical ideas and practices? How have the burdens of communicable and noncommunicable diseases shifted over the past two centuries? How have relationships between patients and practitioners changed? Has the epistemic authority of medicine shifted from the clinic to the laboratory? How has biomedical research shaped the practice of medicine? How are the meanings and experiences of illness socially produced? How has medicine related to industry, public health, and other allied professions? How have hospitals and health insurance evolved? Students will learn to think historically about these and other topics and to put contemporary issues of health and medicine into historical context.
- HLTH H312 Sick City: Urban Health in American History (Spring 2022/2023)
This course examines cities as sites of public health concern and intervention in modern American history. American cities have long faced health challenges ranging from epidemic disease and poor sanitation to overcrowded slum housing and industrial pollution, problems complicated by racial and class discrimination, pernicious gender norms, and political dysfunction. Cities themselves have long served as the laboratories in which policymakers, health officials, and social movements generate knowledge about the health of populations and experiment with different strategies for public health. We will interrogate narratives of “progress” in public health by thinking critically about the very concept of “public health” as a distinct domain of action, expertise, and authority. Students will be asked to think historically about a set of core questions and themes: how certain urban problems have attracted attention from health officials while others remain obscured or are seen as matters of private responsibility, how particular urban spaces come to be conceptualized as sites of medical concern while others remain invisible or neglected, and how local social, political, and economic forces influence and shape public health.
- WRPR 189 Health and the City (no longer offered)