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In 1934, we all were excited over the immediate results: Nature had let us find one key to its secrets,and new horizons seemed to open up.But it was that first sight of the sparkling, glittering crystals in the retort that we will always remember—that moment of bliss for which the scientist would give a thousand days. —Adolf Butenandt and Ulrich Westphal,“Isolation of Progesterone—Forty Years Ago” With this language from their 1974 article, “Isolation of Progesterone—Forty Years Ago,”Adolf Butenandt and Ulrich Westphal reminisce about the moment in March 1934 when their team of scientists first isolated progesterone in the laboratory. This breakthrough was an important next step—following Allen and Doisy’s 1923 isolation of estrogen—toward a complete understanding of the hormonal intricacies of the female menstrual cycle. The authors claim in the article that they knew that they had been successful when“the biological assay in the infantile rabbit . . . showed that we had indeed isolated a compound with the highest progestational activity ever described; 0.75 mg. transformed the proliferative endometrium to the secretory phase.” They go on to describe their initial excitement and the perceived significance of their discovery: “We had thus achieved our objectives: isolation of the corpus luteum hormone and elucidation of its structure. And we had opened the way to large-scale production, for application in human therapy.” In this chapter, I continue exploring this “elucidation” of the female reproductive system that came about through expanded knowledge of hormones in the early twentieth century. Continuing the previous chapter’s emphasis on the ability of ideas to move through time, I expose additional ways in which hormonal explanations of the female body merged with older ways of thinking as these explanations became more deeply enmeshed in scientific understandings of the menstrual Illuminating Women | Metaphor and Movement After Centuries of “Groping in the Dark” 6 19094-Koerber_FromHysteria.indd 128 19094-Koerber_FromHysteria.indd 128 1/15/18 4:41 PM 1/15/18 4:41 PM illuminating women 129 cycle. The key rhetorical concept in this chapter is metaphor. In the texts that constitute the focus of this chapter, I argue, hormones began to emerge more clearly as the metaphor that would transport ancient ideas about women’s bodies into the twentieth century. With the transition from the hysterical-woman metaphor to the hormonalwoman metaphor,we will see,physicians gained a much more robust vocabulary than was ever before available for describing the multiple ways in which women’s bodies could have been pathological. Although hysteria was subject to many different definitions over the centuries, none of these ever facilitated a means of diagnosing women’s pathologies that could have met increasing demands for the scientific support of medical claims and practices that were made by turn-ofcentury audiences. By contrast, after the discovery of progesterone, in 1934, the hormonal-woman metaphor gradually gained ascendance over the hysterical woman that was her predecessor. As this new metaphor took hold, physicians gained access to the systematic vocabulary that was previously unavailable to them. As a result, hysteria was replaced by a variety of different diagnostic categories —including terms such as premenstrual tension and premenstrual syndrome —whose emergence will be explored in this chapter. The word metaphor originates in part from the Greek word phora, which means“to transfer” or“carry over.” Thus, an important concern of this chapter is to illuminate the precise forms of movement that metaphors can facilitate that occur in “the spaces situated between things that are already marked out— spaces of interference,” in the words of Serres. In particular, the chapter’s analysis highlights four forms of rhetorical movement that were integral to this phase of transition from the hysterical woman to the hormonal woman as the dominant metaphor that was used to explain female problems: argumentative shortcuts , purposeful confusion, expansion of empirical evidence, and expansion of expert vocabulary for female pathology.Although these distinct forms of movement can be traced in key medical texts of the early twentieth century, they occurred simultaneously in an interconnected fashion, not necessarily as discrete forms of movement that were separate from each other. Serres refers to Hermes, the god of communication, in characterizing the movement that is facilitated by metaphor in a manner that is useful as an entry to this chapter’s analysis: “Metaphor, in fact, means ‘transport.’ That’s Hermes’s very method: he exports and imports; thus, he traverses. He invents and...


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