Women in Medicine in Nineteenth-Century American Literature: From Poisoners to Doctors, Harriet Beecher Stowe to Theda Bara

Women in Medicine in Nineteenth-Century American Literature: From Poisoners to Doctors, Harriet Beecher Stowe to Theda Bara

by Sara L. Crosby

Paperback(Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 2018)

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This book investigates how popular American literature and film transformed the poisonous woman from a misogynist figure used to exclude women and minorities from political power into a feminist hero used to justify the expansion of their public roles. Sara Crosby locates the origins of this metamorphosis in Uncle Tom’s Cabin where Harriet Beecher Stowe applied an alternative medical discourse to revise the poisonous Cassy into a doctor. The newly “medicalized” poisoner then served as a focal point for two competing narratives that envisioned the American nation as a multi-racial, egalitarian democracy or as a white and male supremacist ethno-state. Crosby tracks this battle from the heroic healers created by Stowe, Mary Webb, Oscar Micheaux, and Louisia May Alcott to the even more monstrous poisoners or “vampires” imagined by E. D. E. N. Southworth, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Theda Bara, Thomas Dixon, Jr., and D. W. Griffith.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9783030071974
Publisher: Springer International Publishing
Publication date: 12/20/2018
Series: Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine
Edition description: Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 2018
Pages: 257
Product dimensions: 5.83(w) x 8.27(h) x 0.02(d)

About the Author

Sara L. Crosby is Associate Professor of English at the Ohio State University at Marion, USA, and author of Poisonous Muse: The Female Poisoner and the Framing of Popular Authorship in Jacksonian America (2016).

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction. Making the Medicinal Poisoner.- Chapter 2. A Quarrel of Poisons: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Homeopathic Poisoner.- Chapter 3. Playing Poison: Mary Webb’s Antidote to the Tom Shows.- Chapter 4. With Friends Like These: E. D. E. N. Southworth and Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes’s Pathological Poisoner.- Chapter 5. The Lady Doctor and the Vamp: How Louisa May Alcott, Theda Bara, and Thomas Dixon, Jr., Killed the Poisonous Woman.- Chapter 6. Conclusion and Coda. A Presidential Election, My Cousin Rachel, and the Lingering Effects of the Medicinal Poisoner.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Crosby provides a fascinating, beautifully researched look at how American literature and culture defined and redefined the woman poisoner from early in the 19th century to early in the 20th. At the center of this story connecting writers and performers as different as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Theda Bara is Harriet Beecher Stowe’s poisonous woman in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the defiant enslaved healer, Cassy. This is scholarship at its best—lucid, provocative, totally engaging. ” (Elizabeth Ammons, Harriet H. Fay Professor of Literature, Tufts University, USA)

“Provocative and persuasive, Women in Medicine introduces us to the nineteenth century’s poisonous woman who becomes either her polar opposite, the heroic doctor, or the newly pathologized vampire. Ranging from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Cassy to Theda Bara’s film vamp, Sara Crosby’s portrayal of this quintessential figure is as much a page turner as the popular texts Sara Crosby interrogates. ” (Mary Kelley, Ruth Bordin Collegiate Professor of History, American Culture and Women’s Studies, University of Michigan, USA)

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