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Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory

Special Issue: Medical Women in 19th-Century American Literature

This special issue of Arizona Quarterly seeks essays that engage with literature containing medical women or women in the sciences in 19th-century America. In the midst of a controversy between William Lloyd Garrison and the Gynecological Society of Boston, the Society referred to women physicians, or “skirted practitioners,” as a “third sex,” as inhabiting a space somehow between or outside the male/female gender binary. Despite the Gynecological Society’s intent at harm, their claim can be reinterpreted as a description of the way 19th-century women in the sciences transgress gender binaries by inhabiting a queer, third, liminal space—a space that resists restrictive categorizations.

These are women who transgress the boundary between the private and the public, between the female space and the male dominated one. Perhaps a way to reinterpret the Gynecological Society’s negative othering is to suggest that these 19th-century American women physicians represent a queer, transgressive, and liminal space between the physical and ideological female-inhabited domestic space and the male-dominated professional space.

How, then, do texts with medical women grapple with transgressed categories on both the formal and the thematic level? How does 19th-century American literature register the “third” space women in the sciences inhabit? What do we learn from reading literature with medical women as characters or authors?

To address this issue of formal and thematic transgression, authors might pursue issues such as the following, though they should not feel limited by them:

  • How novels with women physicians or scientists transgress generic or formal boundaries
  • Approaches that queer medical women in literature; analyses of queering and medical women
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to 19th-century characterizations of women and medicine
  • How literature with medical women works to disrupt social and literary forms
  • 19th-century works that explore the intersections between gender, sex, and medicine
  • Genre analyses of novels of sentimentalism, realism, or regionalism with medical or scientific women characters
  • Spatial or visual representations of 19th-century medical women or women in science
  • Pedagogical approaches to teaching 19th-century texts with medical women

Topics other than those listed above are enthusiastically encouraged, and articles on a broad range of issues and topics that fall within the broad project of women in medicine or science and literature will be considered.

Please send 500 word abstracts and a brief bio to Margaret Jay Jessee by December 15. Completed essays will be due in March 2018 for review.

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