In Out of the Dead House: Nineteenth Century Women Physicians and the Writing of Medicine, Susan Wells explores the theses, journals, and written recoIn Out of the Dead House: Nineteenth Century Women Physicians and the Writing of Medicine, Susan Wells explores the theses, journals, and written records of women physicians in the 19th Century. She looks at their rhetorical practices as they operate in a masculine - and almost exclusively male - profession. She writes that:
“Women physicians developed distinctive strategies for speaking and writing in a hostile profession. Many wrote as if they were men of the received order: they insisted on the regularity of their medical views and the rigor of their education. These women sometimes argued for a wider sphere for women or claimed that their gender gave them a special understanding of some neglected (and usually undervalued) aspect of medicine, such as hygiene, public health, or prevention. Theirs was a strategy of masquerade: the woman physician wrote as male but did not present herself as ‘a man.’ Instead, she was ‘a doctor as good as any man’; her disguise is foregrounded as a performance, rendered memorable by the special skill she brought to it” (Wells 5).
Wells discusses much of their writing as what she calls "cross-dressed rhetoric" and as "gendered performance." She writes about the ways these women position their discourse so that they can develop a sense of ethos within both the medical community (which regularly scorned their presence and society as a whole.
One thing that fixed my attention throughout the text was the problem of women patients seeing male doctors and the lack of comprehensive medical attention they received as a result of the 'need' to maintain modesty. I'm fascinated by the manuals for women that were published during this period. Before I returned to school, I had a job that allowed me to collect antiquarian books. These types of manuals and guides were among my favorites. The medical/health advice, as well as the rules for proper comportment, come out in Wells' descriptions of the poor health care women received due to a generally poor understanding of women's bodies and health concerns, as well as this reluctance (and often refusal) to disrobe and submit to examinations performed by male doctors. These women doctors were often able to use these situations to argue for the need for female doctors, to establish their importance and status....more
This was more of a skim than a read. The authors focus on the relationship between mothers and their children's schooling. The results are in some wayThis was more of a skim than a read. The authors focus on the relationship between mothers and their children's schooling. The results are in some ways obvious, but studies like this are needed to show that intuition about this issue can be quantified.
What they found, is that middle-class mothers, particularly those who don't work outside of the home, contribute unpaid work towards their children's schooling and school that allows teachers more time to focus on curricular issues during class time. This unpaid labor creates inequities between schools/education. Teachers don't need to spend time (or as much time) working with children on non-curricular tasks(behavior, how to be a student, etc.) in these schools. There is more time for focused academic work.
On the other hand, working class mothers (who, for the most part, worked full time) weren't able to participate in their children's education/school in this same way. Their children's teachers had to perform the work the middle-class women performed in the other schools. As a result, they spend less time of curriculum and academics were watered down b/c of these extra duties.
Again, it all makes sense. I really don't have more to say than this was one more depressing book contributing to my academic knowledge....more