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Laura C. Harris Series

selected reading for visiting lecturers

Deirdre Cooper Owens

Dates: January 27-28 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration) (Monday-Tuesday)
Events:Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Keynote: Jan. 27, 1:00 PM, Swasey Chapel, “Racial Justice and Health”
Laura C. Harris Series Talk: Jan. 28, 4:00 PM, Burton Morgan Lecture Hall 115, “What Genealogies Reveal: Slavery, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology”

Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens recently joined the Department of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as the Linda and Charles Wilson Professor in the History of Medicine and the Director of the Humanities in Medicine Program. She is one of two Black women in the United States leading a health humanities program. The recipient of several prestigious honors including the University of Virginia's Carter G. Woodson Postdoctoral Fellowship and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology Fellowship in Washington, D.C., she is a graduate of two historically black colleges and universities, Bennett College and Clark Atlanta University. Her dissertation won the University of California, Los Angele's Mary Wollstonecraft Dissertation Award for best women’s history project. 

Cooper Owens’ first book, Medical Bondage: Race, Gender and the Origins of American Gynecology (University of Georgia Press, 2018), traces the relationship between slavery and women’s professional medicine in early America, and won the Organization of American Historian’s Darlene Clark Hine Award. She is currently working on a book that examines mental illness during the era of slavery as well as a popular biography of Harriet Tubman that examines her through the lens of disability. A popular public speaker, Cooper Owens has lectured domestically and abroad to diverse audiences. She has published essays, book chapters, and popular blog pieces on a number of issues that concern African American experiences. She has also made a number of appearances on national media outlets as an expert on issues of race, medicine, and U.S. slavery.

Elena Conis

Dates: Feb. 3-4 (Monday-Tuesday)
EVENT: Feb. 4, 7:00 PM, Burton Morgan Lecture Hall 115, “A Mother’s Responsibility? Feminism and Contemporary Vaccine Hesitancy in the U.S.”

Elena Conis is a professor in the Graduate School of Journalism and the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society at the University of California, Berkeley, where she also directs the joint graduate program in Journalism and Public Health. A former journalist, award-winning columnist, and historian, she studies how culture, values, politics, and media have shaped modern American medicine, public health, and environmentalism over time, and how scientific ideas about health and medicine are communicated to and received by the public in the present. Her book Vaccine Nation: America’s Changing Relationship with Immunization received the 2015 Arthur J. Viseltear Award from the American Public Health Association. Her research has been supported by grants and awards from the National Institutes of Health, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Science History Institute, UCLA's Charles Donald O'Malley Research Fellowship, and Emory University, where she was previously a Mellon Foundation Faculty Fellow in Health and the Humanities and a faculty member in the Department of History.

Dr. Conis will present a talk, “A Mother’s Responsibility? Feminism and Contemporary Vaccine Hesitancy in the U.S.” Today’s childhood immunization schedule has its origins in federal and local policy approaches that date to the 1960s and 1970s. At that time, efforts to secure high levels of immunization coverage relied heavily on the cooperation of mothers; they were also concurrent with the rise of second wave feminism and the women’s health movement. This talk examines popular and scientific immunization rhetoric of the last half century through a feminist lens, to demonstrate how changing ideas about the social and economic roles of women in this period shaped, on the one hand, official vaccination recommendations and, on the other, women’s acceptance of vaccines recommended for their children. The influence of feminist ideas on the vaccine doubts that took shape in this period reveals the complexity of the ideologies informing contemporary vaccine skepticism.

For more recommendations, see Elena Conis's website

Jane Gallop

EVENT: Feb. 24, 7 PM, Burton Morgan Lecture Hall 115, “Sexuality, Disability, and Aging: Queer Temporalities of the Phallus”
February 25 (Tuesday), 12:00-1:15 PM, Office of Gender and Sexuality, Slayter 402, Dr. Jane Gallop: Lunch and Book Chapter Discussion

Jane Gallop is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is the author of a hundred essays and ten books, including Thinking Through the Body, Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment, Anecdotal Theory, and most recently, Sexuality, Disability, and Aging (Duke University Press, 2019). She writes and teaches about feminist theory, queer theory, literary and cultural theory, pedagogy, and crip theory. In this talk, Dr. Gallop explores how disability and aging work to undermine one’s sense of self. She challenges common conceptions that equate the decline of bodily potential and ability with an irretrievable loss, arguing that such a loss can be both temporary and positively transformative. With Sexuality, Disability, and Aging, Gallop explores and celebrates how sexuality transforms and becomes more queer in the lives of the no
longer young and the no longer able while at the same time demonstrating how disability can generate new forms of sexual fantasy and erotic possibility.

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