Body Failure: Medical Views of Women, 1900-1950

By Wendy Mitchinson

© 2013

In this energetic new study, Wendy Mitchinson traces medical perspectives on the treatment of women in Canada in the first half of the twentieth century. It is based on in-depth research in a variety of archival sources, including Canadian medical journals, textbooks used in many of Canada’s medical faculties, popular health literature, patient case records, and hospital annual reports, as well as interviews with women who lived during the period.

Each chapter examines events throughout a woman’s life cycle – puberty, menstruation, sexuality, marriage and motherhood – and the health problems connected to them – infertility, birth control and abortion, gynaecology, cancer, nervous disorders, and menopause. Mitchinson provides a sensitive understanding of the physician/patient relationship, the unease of many doctors about the bodies of their female patients, as well as overriding concerns about the relationship between female and male bodies. Throughout the book, Mitchinson takes care to examine the roles and agency of both patients and practitioners as diverse individuals.

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Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 456 pages
  • Illustrations: 24
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.2in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP003572

  • PUBLISHED SEP 2013

    From: $32.21

    Regular Price: $42.95

    ISBN 9781442614314
  • PUBLISHED OCT 2013

    From: $67.50

    Regular Price: $90.00

    ISBN 9781442646261
  • PUBLISHED OCT 2013

    From: $36.51

    Regular Price: $42.95

Quick Overview

In this energetic new study, Wendy Mitchinson traces medical perspectives on the treatment of women in Canada in the first half of the twentieth century.

Body Failure: Medical Views of Women, 1900-1950

By Wendy Mitchinson

© 2013

In this energetic new study, Wendy Mitchinson traces medical perspectives on the treatment of women in Canada in the first half of the twentieth century. It is based on in-depth research in a variety of archival sources, including Canadian medical journals, textbooks used in many of Canada’s medical faculties, popular health literature, patient case records, and hospital annual reports, as well as interviews with women who lived during the period.

Each chapter examines events throughout a woman’s life cycle – puberty, menstruation, sexuality, marriage and motherhood – and the health problems connected to them – infertility, birth control and abortion, gynaecology, cancer, nervous disorders, and menopause. Mitchinson provides a sensitive understanding of the physician/patient relationship, the unease of many doctors about the bodies of their female patients, as well as overriding concerns about the relationship between female and male bodies. Throughout the book, Mitchinson takes care to examine the roles and agency of both patients and practitioners as diverse individuals.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 456 pages
  • Illustrations: 24
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.2in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    Body Failure is an extensively researched and carefully argued book… It is an excellent contribution to the rich, intersecting field of body and medicine in Canada.’


    Jane Nicholas
    Acadiensis vol 44:02:2015

    ‘This nuanced account of medical views of women in the first half of the twentieth century is sometimes depressing, but it is always fascinating, and tells a story which deserves to be more widely known.’
    Tracey Loughran
    Social History of Medicine vol 27:04:2014

    Body Failure’s rich detail can be profitably mined for lectures, so it is a treat for professors, including the many fine young scholars Mitchinson has trained and mentored in her long career. It is a highly recommended addition and we look forward to her next.’


    Cheryl Krasnick Warsh
    Canadian Historical Review vol 95:03:2014

    Body Failure is a very valuable resource on medical views of women’s health in Canada… This study reminds us that medicine was and still is, a profession engaged in constant debate, conjecture, and speculation about how gender shapes bodily differences.’


    Susan L. Smith
    Bulletin of Medical History vol 88:04:2014

    ‘This solid albeit dispassionate book about how women were sometimes mutilated in the name of a male-dominated science is a must read for any woman who respects herself and her body.’


    Herizons, Winter 2015

    “This book about how women were sometimes mutilated in the name of male-dominated science is a must read for any woman who respects herself or her body. “


    Maya Khankhoje
    Herizons Magazine (Winter, 2015)

    ‘Meticulously researched, well organized and clearly written. Body Failure offers a complex and compelling understanding of the medicalization process through a gendered lens and as such, makes an important contribution to the literature on women’s health, healthcare, and medicine.’  


    Rebecca Kluchin
    Journal of Social History Fall 2015

    “Observing that medical knowledge and practice are socially constructed and thus reflect their culture and times, Body Failure details the medical ‘management’ of women’s bodies over the course of their lives. By documenting these processes it constitutes an important contribution to the field.”


    Juanne Clarke, Department of Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Author Information

    Wendy Mitchinson is a Canadian historian and a Distinguished Professor Emerita in University of Waterloo.
  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgements

    Introduction

    Chapter One
    Woman’s Place

    Chapter Two
    Growing Up and Facing Puberty

    Chapter Three
    “You can’t be at your best when you’re sitting in a swamp”: Menstruation

    Chapter Four
    Understanding Sexuality

    Chapter Five
    Advice on Marriage and Motherhood

    Chapter Six
    “On the fringe of knowledge”: Infertility

    Chapter Seven
    Controlling Fertility: Birth Control and Abortion

    Chapter Eight
    “The ... mischievous tendency of specialism”: Gynaecology

    Chapter Nine
    The Womanly Body: A Cancer Threat

    Chapter Ten
    The Mind’s Health

    Chapter Eleven
    Menopause: The End of Womanhood

    Conclusion

    Notes on Sources and Methodology

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