Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12:40 p.m. to 1:55 p.m., 120 Ross Hall


Amy Bix:

      Office hours: Tuesdays, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Wednesdays, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.; plus other  

                             times by appointment;

      Office: 633 Ross Hall, 294-0122

      E-mail: abix@iastate.edu





          This course will combine history of medicine, history of science, women's history, and gender history for an intensive examination of topics relating to health, the body, and medical care from the classical era to the present. This upper-level history seminar emphasizes exploration of various primary and secondary source materials, leading up to original research and writing. We will start with ancient Greek thought, examining the ideas of Aristotle, Galen, and others about the nature of reproduction and sexual differences.  This course will then discuss teachings about women's nature during the medieval period, moving toward the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution. Detailed study of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries will cover the history of women's role as nurses, doctors, and other healers, plus the history of women's treatment as patients.  Discussion will also track changing notions of gender, sexuality, and the body.  Finally, we will explore how assumptions about gender have shaped the theories and practice of medical science, from the days of craniology and eugenics, to modern biology and the politics of medical care.





          This course includes two meetings per week, attendance at which is mandatory.  Meetings will include short lectures, discussions of readings, in-class exercises, viewing of films, and other activities.  These are also your opportunities to ask questions about course procedures and about readings and other class material.

          For this upper-level history seminar, one main requirement is to write an original research paper (more below). There will also be two take-home essay examinations and a series of brief in-class quizzes during the semester (but no final exam). Students, including graduating seniors, are responsible for completing all work by the proper dates; any work not completed by semester's end automatically converts to a zero. Students experiencing difficulty should first consult the professor, but may also wish to use ISU's Academic Learning Lab, the Writing Lab, or Tutoring Services. Standard ISU policies on academic dishonesty will be applied.

          During our Tuesday/Thursday meetings, on twelve occasions throughout the semester (unannounced ahead of time), we will pause for a five-minute quiz. These closed-book, closed-note quizzes will cover material from the current or previous week's reading assignment and from recent class meetings.  The format will be short and simple, roughly five questions per quiz, usually in true/false, multiple choice, or fill-in-the-blank format. Quizzes may turn up at the beginning of a period, the end, or in the middle.  There will be no make-up for any quiz missed, regardless of the reason; missed quizzes will receive a zero.  However, at the end of the semester, you will be permitted to drop your two lowest quiz scores; the remaining ten will amount to your total quiz grade.

          You will notice that many week's meetings will include overhead transparencies listing key concepts, names and dates, quotations, and other material. To save you frantic scribbling during class, I plan to post copies of this material on the web, through the ISU website (exact web address to be announced).  I will try to post each meeting's overhead material on the web ahead of time (barring computer problems, etc.); some students find it useful to print out copies and bring them along to class, as an aid in taking notes. Please remember: having these webnotes is no substitute for attending class yourself – they contain essential facts, but are NOT a full transcript of information!

          Special note: please be aware that by its nature, this course covers subjects such as sexuality and reproduction, contraception and abortion, body image, and more.  We will be approaching these topics in a scholarly manner, from the perspectives of history, medicine, and biology. I expect all participants to read about and discuss such material in a serious and respectful fashion.





1.  Class participation - 10% of final grade:

    a.  Attendance;

    b.  Constructive participation in class discussion and evidence of having completed reading



2.  In-class quizzes – total quiz grade equals 10% of final grade.


3. Two examinations (dates below) - 20% each, for a total of 40% of final grade.  Exams will be take-

    home, open-book essay questions.


4. 18-25 page research paper - 40% of final grade:

    a.  Required consultation on topic (date below);

    b.  Required first draft (date below; failure to turn in first draft on time will mean substantial

         deductions in the final grade)

    c.  Final version, incorporating suggested revisions, due at last class meeting before finals week.





These books can be purchased in paperback (some available used) at university bookstores.  Copies should also be available through library reserve.


1.  Leavitt, Judith Walzer; Women and Health in America, SECOND EDITION; (Univ. Wisc., 1999).


2. Tuana, Nancy; The Less Noble Sex: Scientific, Religious, and Philosophical Conceptions of Woman's Nature; (Indiana Univ. Pr., 1993).


3.  reading packet put together through the University Bookstore.  In your syllabus, these are marked as RP.  Please note: the readings are printed in the packet in a different order than we will be using them, so you may need to flip through to find them.


Short additional readings may occasionally be handed out in class.





Tuesday, August 26 and Thursday, August 28 -

Course introduction; Ancient and Classical Worlds: Women's roles and medical history; 



Tuesday, September 2 and Thursday, September 4

Aristotle and Galen: Ideas about Reproduction and Sex Differences;

          ASSIGNMENT for week of 9/2:  

           -   Tuana, p. 3-92.



Tuesday, September 9 and Thursday, September 11 -

The Medieval Age through the 18th Century: Perspectives on Medicine and Women's Nature;

          ASSIGNMENT for week of 9/9:

          -   Tuana, p. 93-172.

          -   RP: excerpts from the Mind Has No Sex? Londa Schiebinger.



Tuesday, September 16 and Thursday, September 18 -

Gender, Biology, and Medicine in Colonial America;

           ASSIGNMENT for week of 9/16: 

-       Leavitt, p. 11-29 (Dayton, "Taking the Trade”)

-       Leavitt, p. 38-43 (Plane, “Childbirth Practices”)

-       Leavitt, p. 48-61 (Ulrich, “Living Mother”)

-       Leavitt, p. 91-106 (Dye and Smith, “Mother Love and Infant Death”)

 MAKE REQUIRED APPOINTMENT to consult Dr. Bix on proposed paper  topic by October 15 !



Tuesday, September 23 and Thursday, September 25 -

19th Century Medical and Scientific Ideas about Women: Biology Dictates Limits;

          ASSIGNMENT for week of 9/23:

          -   Leavitt, p. 111-123 (Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, "The Female Animal”)

          -   RP: “19th century Craniology,” Elizabeth Fee.

    -   RP: excerpts from Sexual Science, Cynthia Russett.

          -   RP: “Women, Menstruation, and 19thC Medicine,” Vern Bullough and Martha Voght.

          -   RP: Sex in Education, Edward Clarke.

          -  RP: “Stronger in Body as well as in Mind,” Martha Verbrugge.

TAKE-HOME ESSAY EXAM #1 handed out Thursday, Sept. 25; due Thursday, October 2  !



Tuesday, September 30 and Thursday, October 2 -

Women's Medical Issues and Treatment in the 19th Century;

           ASSIGNMENT for week of 9/30:

-       RP: “'The Fashionable Diseases,” Ann Douglas Wood.

-       Leavitt, p. 327-342 (Leavitt, “Under the Shadow of Maternity”)

-       Leavitt, p. 405-417 (Theriot, "Diagnosing Unnatural Motherhood”)

-       RP: “Making Women Modern,” Regina Markell Morantz.

TAKE-HOME ESSAY EXAM #1 due Thursday, October 2  !



Tuesday, October 7 and Thursday, October 9 -

Women's Roles in 19th Century Medical Practice: Doctors, Nurses, and Other Healers;

           ASSIGNMENT for week of 10/7:

          -   Leavitt, p. 423-438 (Borst, “Training and Practice of Midwives”)

           -  RP: “Science Enters the Birthing Room” Judith Walzer Leavitt.

-   Leavitt, p. 459-470 (Reverby, “Neither for the Drawing Room”)

-  Leavitt, p. 507-522 (Walsh, “Feminist Showplace”)

            -   RP: “Feminism, Professionalism and Germs,” Regina Markell Morantz.

-  Leavitt, p. 526-537 (Morantz-Sanchez, “The Gendering of Empathic Expertise”)



Tuesday, October 14 and Thursday, October 16 -

Gender, Sexuality, and the Body through the Victorian Era;

          ASSIGNMENT for week of 10/14: 

-       Leavitt, p. 191-208 (Degler, “What Ought to Be”)

-       Leavitt, p. 213-226 (Diggs, “Romantic Friends”)

-       RP: “Socially Camouflaged Technologies,” Rachel Maines.

-       RP: “Surgical Gynecology,” Judith Roy.



Tuesday, October 21 and Thursday, October 23 -

History of Contraceptive Politics and Practice;

          ASSIGNMENT for week of 10/21:

   -  RP: “Abortion in America,” James Mohr.

   -  RP: “Abortion: A Domestic Technology” Kristin Luker.

   -  Leavitt, p. 269-284 (Reagan, “About to Meet Her Maker”)

   -  Leavitt, p. 251-265 (Gordon, “Voluntary Motherhood”)

   -  RP: “The Limits of the Law”,  Andrea Tone.

   -  RP: “Direct Action: Margaret Sanger's Crusade,” Nancy Woloch.



Tuesday, October 28 and Thursday, October 30

Medicine, Politics, and Ideology of Early 20thC Birth Control:

          ASSIGNMENT for week of 10/28:

   -  RP: “Doctors, Birth Control and Social Values,” James Reed.

   -  RP: “Carrie Buck's Daughter” Stephen Jay Gould.

   -  Leavitt, p. 293-302 (Rodrique, “The Black Community”)

   -  RP: “The Politics of Birth Control 1920-1940,” Linda Gordon.

   -  Leavitt, p. 306-321 (Tone, “Contraceptive Consumers”)

TAKE-HOME ESSAY EXAM #2 handed out Tuesday, Oct. 28; due Tuesday, November 4 !



Tuesday, November 4 and Thursday, November 6

Women's Medical Issues and Treatment in the Early 20th Century;

          ASSIGNMENT for week of 11/4:

          -  Leavitt, p. 596-608 (Tomes, “Spreading the Germ Theory”)

  -  Leavitt, p. 612-629 (Leavitt, “Gendered Expectations”)

  -  Leavitt, p. 390-399 (Abelson, “The Invention of Kleptomania”)

  -  Leavitt, p. 229-246 (Lunbeck, “A New Generation of Women”)

  -  Leavitt, p. 172-183 (Lowe, “From Robust Appetites”)

TAKE-HOME ESSAY EXAM #1 due Tuesday, November 4  !



Tuesday, November 11 and Thursday, November 13

Women's Roles in 20th Century Medical Practice: Progress and Discouragement;

          ASSIGNMENT for week of 11/11:

  -  Leavitt, p. 635-653 (Leavitt, “Growth of Medical Authority”)

  -  Leavitt, p. 540-551 (Jensen, “Uncle Sam's Loyal Nieces”)

  -  Leavitt, p. 475-486 (Hine, “They Shall Mount Up With Wings”)

  -  Leavitt, p. 347-365 (Carson, “And the Results Showed Promise”)

  -  Leavitt, p. 444-453 (Smith, “White Nurses, Black Midwives”)

FIRST DRAFT of paper due Thursday, November 13  !



Tuesday, November 18 and Thursday, November 20

20th Century Medical and Scientific Ideas about Women: Biology in the Feminist Era;

          ASSIGNMENT for week of 11/18:

  -  RP: “The Egg and the Sperm,” Emily Martin.

  -  RP: “Medicine,” Londa Schiebinger.

         -  Additional readings to be handed out in class.



Tuesday, November 25 and Thursday, November 27no class


Tuesday, December 2 and Thursday, December 4

Gender and Modern Sexuality and Reproduction: Change and Controversy;

          ASSIGNMENT for week of 12/2:

          -   Leavitt, p. 150-165 (Brumberg, “Something Happens to Girls”)

          -   Leavitt, p. 371-384 (Solinger, “Race and ‘Value'”)

   -  Leavitt, p. 659-676 (Solinger, “A Complete Disaster”)

  -  Additional readings to be handed out in class.



Tuesday, December 9 and Thursday, December 11 -

The Political and Social History of Medicine and Gender in the Late 20th Century:

          ASSIGNMENT for week of 12/9:

  -  Readings to be handed out in class.

Final version of paper due Thursday, December 11  !