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The Eugenic Fortress

The Transylvanian Saxon Experiment in Interwar Romania

Tudor Georgescu

The ever growing library on the history of eugenics and fascism focuses largely on nation states, while this monograph asks why an ethnic minority, the Transylvanian Saxons, turned to eugenics as a means of self-empowerment in interwar Romania. The Eugenic Fortress investigates and unpacks the eugenic movement that emerged in the early twentieth century, and focuses on its conceptual and methodological evolution during the interwar period. Further on, the book analyzes the gradual process of politicisation and radicalisation at the hands of a second generation of Saxon eugenicists in conjunction with the rise of an equally indigenous fascist movement. The Saxon case study offers valuable insights into why an ethnic minority would seek to re-entrench itself behind the race-hygienic walls of a ‘eugenic fortress’, as well as the influence host and home nations had upon its design. Georgescu’s work is ground breaking in the sense that the history of this uprooted community is usually handled with sensitivity and serious (and critical) research into Transylvanian Saxon involvement with Nazism has been energetically resisted.

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The Evolution of Obesity

Michael L. Power and Jay Schulkin

In this sweeping exploration of the relatively recent obesity epidemic, Michael L. Power and Jay Schulkin probe evolutionary biology, history, physiology, and medical science to uncover the causes of our growing girth. The unexpected answer? Our own evolutionary success. For most of the past few million years, our evolutionary ancestors' survival depended on being able to consume as much as possible when food was available and to store the excess energy for periods when it was scarce. In the developed world today, high-calorie foods are readily obtainable, yet the propensity to store fat is part of our species' heritage, leaving an increasing number of the world's people vulnerable to obesity. In an environment of abundant food, we are anatomically, physiologically, metabolically, and behaviorally programmed in a way that makes it difficult for us to avoid gaining weight. Power and Schulkin’s engagingly argued book draws on popular examples and sound science to explain our expanding waistlines and to discuss the consequences of being overweight for different demographic groups. They review the various studies of human and animal fat use and storage, including those that examine fat deposition and metabolism in men and women; chronicle cultural differences in food procurement, preparation, and consumption; and consider the influence of sedentary occupations and lifestyles. A compelling and comprehensive examination of the causes and consequences of the obesity epidemic, The Evolution of Obesity offers fascinating insights into the question, Why are we getting fatter?

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Febris Erotica

Lovesickness in the Russian Literary Imagination

by Valeria Sobol

The destructive power of obsessive love was a defining subject of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Russian literature. In Febris Erotica, Sobol argues that Russian writers were deeply preoccupied with the nature of romantic relationships and were persistent in their use of lovesickness not simply as a traditional theme but as a way to address pressing philosophical, ethical, and ideological concerns through a recognizable literary trope. Sobol examines stereotypes about the damaging effects of romantic love and offers a short history of the topos of lovesickness in Western literature and medicine.

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The Fertility Doctor

John Rock and the Reproductive Revolution

Margaret Marsh and Wanda Ronner

As Louise Brown—the first baby conceived by in vitro fertilization—celebrates her 30th birthday, Margaret Marsh and Wanda Ronner tell the fascinating story of the man who first showed that human in vitro fertilization was possible. John Rock spent his career studying human reproduction. The first researcher to fertilize a human egg in vitro in the 1940s, he became the nation’s leading figure in the treatment of infertility, his clinic serving rich and poor alike. In the 1950s he joined forces with Gregory Pincus to develop oral contraceptives and in the 1960s enjoyed international celebrity for his promotion of the pill and his campaign to persuade the Catholic Church to accept it. Rock became a more controversial figure by the 1970s, as conservative Christians argued that his embryo studies were immoral and feminist activists contended that he had taken advantage of the clinic patients who had participated in these studies as research subjects. Marsh and Ronner’s nuanced account sheds light on the man behind the brilliant career. They tell the story of a directionless young man, a saloon keeper’s son, who began his working life as a timekeeper on a Guatemalan banana plantation and later became one of the most recognized figures of the twentieth century. They portray his medical practice from the perspective of his patients, who ranged from the wives of laborers to Hollywood film stars. The first scholars to have access to Rock’s personal papers, Marsh and Ronner offer a compelling look at a man whose work defined the reproductive revolution, with its dual developments in contraception and technologically assisted conception.

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Fit to Be Tied

Sterilization and Reproductive Rights in America, 1950-1980

Rebecca M. Kluchin

Fit to Be Tied provides a history of sterilization and what would become, at once, socially divisive and a popular form of birth control. Utilizing first-person narratives, court cases, and official records, Rebecca M. Kluchin examines the evolution of forced sterilization of poor women, especially women of color, in the second half of the century and contrasts it with demands for contraceptive sterilization made by white women and men. She chronicles public acceptance during an era of reproductive and sexual freedom, the shift away from sterilization and how it influenced many aspects of American life.

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Fixing the Poor

Eugenic Sterilization and Child Welfare in the Twentieth Century

Molly Ladd-Taylor

Between 1907 and 1937, thirty-two states legalized the sterilization of more than 63,000 Americans. In Fixing the Poor, Molly Ladd-Taylor tells the story of these state-run eugenic sterilization programs. She focuses on one such program in Minnesota, where surgical sterilization was legally voluntary and administered within a progressive child welfare system.

Tracing Minnesota’s eugenics program from its conceptual origins in the 1880s to its official end in the 1970s, Ladd-Taylor argues that state sterilization policies reflected a wider variety of worldviews and political agendas than previously understood. She describes how, after 1920, people endorsed sterilization and its alternative, institutionalization, as the best way to aid dependent children without helping the "undeserving" poor. She also sheds new light on how the policy gained acceptance and why coerced sterilizations persisted long after eugenics lost its prestige. In Ladd-Taylor’s provocative study, eugenic sterilization appears less like a deliberate effort to improve the gene pool than a complicated but sadly familiar tale of troubled families, fiscal and administrative politics, and deep-felt cultural attitudes about disability, dependency, sexuality, and gender.

Drawing on institutional and medical records, court cases, newspapers, and professional journals, Ladd-Taylor reconstructs the tragic stories of the welfare-dependent, sexually delinquent, and disabled people who were labeled feebleminded and targeted for sterilization. She chronicles the routine operation of Minnesota’s three-step policy of eugenic commitment, institutionalization, and sterilization in the 1920s and 1930s and shows how surgery became the "price of freedom" from a state institution. Combining innovative political analysis with a compelling social history of those caught up in Minnesota’s welfare system, Fixing the Poor is a powerful reinterpretation of eugenic sterilization.

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Florence Nightingale and Hospital Reform

Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, Volume 16

Florence Nightingale began working on hospital reform even before she founded her famous school of nursing; hospitals were dangerous places for nurses as well as patients, and they urgently needed fundamental reform. She continued to work on safer hospital design, location, and materials to the end of her working life, advising on plans for children’s, general, military, and convalescent hospitals and workhouse infirmaries.

Florence Nightingale and Hospital Reform, the final volume in the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, includes her influential Notes on Hospitals, with its much-quoted musing on the need of a Hippocratic oath for hospitals—namely, that first they should do the sick no harm. Nightingale’s anonymous articles on hospital design are printed here also, as are later encyclopedia entries on hospitals.

Correspondence with architects, engineers, doctors, philanthropists, local notables, and politicians is included. The results of these letters, some with detailed critiques of hospital plans, can be seen initially in the great British examples of the new “pavilion” design—at St. Thomas’, London (a civil hospital), at the Herbert Hospital (military), and later at many hospitals throughout the UK and internationally. Nightingale’s insistence on keeping good statistics to track rates of mortality and hospital stays, and on using them to compare hospitals, can be seen as good advice for today, given the new versions of “hospital-acquired infections” she combatted.

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Fools and idiots?

Intellectual disability in the Middle Ages

Irina Metzler

Fools and idiots? is the first book devoted to the cultural history in the pre-modern period of people we now describe as having learning disabilities. Using an interdisciplinary approach, including historical semantics, medicine, natural philosophy and law, Irina Metzler considers a neglected field of social and medical history and makes an original contribution to the problem of a shifting concept such as 'idiocy'. Medieval physicians, lawyers and the schoolmen of the emerging universities wrote the texts which shaped medieval definitions of intellectual ability and its counterpart, disability. In studying such texts, which form part of our contemporary scientific and cultural heritage, we gain a better understanding of which people were considered to be intellectually disabled, and how their participation and inclusion in society differed from the situation today. This book will be required reading for anyone studying or working in disability studies, history of medicine, social history and the history of ideas.

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Frederick Novy and the Development of Bacteriology in Medicine

Powel Harold Kazanjian

At the turn of the twentieth century, Frederick Novy was the leader among a new breed of full-time bacteriologists at American medical schools. Although historians have examined bacteriologic work done in American health department laboratories, there has been little examination of similar work completed within U.S. medical schools during this period.
 
In Frederick Novy and the Development of Bacteriology in Medicine, medical historian, medical researcher, and clinician Powel H. Kazanjian uses Novy’s archived letters, laboratory notebooks, lecture notes, and published works to examine medical research and educational activities at the University of Michigan and other key medical schools during a formative period in modern medical science.
 

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From Madness to Mental Health

Psychiatric Disorder and Its Treatment in Western Civilization

Edited and with an introduction by Greg Eghigian

In From Madness to Mental Health, Greg Eghigian has compiled a unique anthology of readings, from ancient times to the present, which also includes an updated bibliography of first-person narratives on mental illness compiled by Gail A. Hornstein. This work neither glorifies nor denigrates the contributions of psychiatry, clinical psychology, and psychotherapy, but rather considers how mental disorders have historically challenged the ways in which human beings have understood and valued their bodies, minds, and souls.

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