[Kari_Nixon,_Lorenzo_Servitje_(eds.)]_Syphilis_and(b-ok.cc).pdf

This preview shows page 1 out of 192 pages.

Unformatted text preview: SYPHILIS AND SUBJECTIVITY FROM THE VICTORIANS TO THE PRESENT EDITED BY KARI NIXON AND LORENZO SERVITJE Syphilis and Subjectivity Kari Nixon  •  Lorenzo Servitje Editors Syphilis and Subjectivity From the Victorians to the Present Editors Kari Nixon Department of English Whitworth University Spokane, WA, United States Lorenzo Servitje Department of English and Health, Medicine, and Society Program Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA, United States ISBN 978-3-319-66366-1    ISBN 978-3-319-66367-8 (eBook) Library of Congress Control Number: 2017955042 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover illustration: Samantha Johnson Printed on acid-free paper This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by Springer Nature The registered company is Springer International Publishing AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland Editors and Contributors Editors Kari Nixon  is an assistant professor at Whitworth University. Her research focuses on the confluence of microbiology, germ theory, and social norms in the late nineteenth century. Her articles have appeared in Disability Studies Quarterly, Configurations: A Journal of Literature and Science, Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, and Journal for Medical Humanities. Her co-edited collection, Endemic: Essays in Contagion Theory, was published with Palgrave in 2016. Lorenzo Servitje  is Assistant Professor of Literature and Medicine at Lehigh University, working in the English Department and Health, Medicine, and Society Program. He researches the intersections of medical discourse and literature, focusing on the metaphorical militarization of medicine in the Victorian period. He also researches contemporary popular and technocultural representations of medicine. His articles have appeared in Journal of Medical Humanities, Critical Survey, Science Fiction Studies, Literature and Medicine, and Games and Culture. He has co-edited two collections, The Walking Med: Zombies and the Medical Image (Penn State, 2016) and Endemic: Essays in Contagion Theory (Palgrave, 2016). v vi  Editors and Contributors Contributors Shannon K. Carter  is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Central Florida. Her research focuses on social inequalities, reproduction, and mothering. She is currently conducting research on African American mothers’ breastfeeding experiences and peer breast milk sharing in Central Florida. Her collaborative research with Beatriz Reyes-Foster on peer milk sharing has been published in several outlets, including articles in Breastfeeding Medicine and The Journal of Human Lactation. Nicole Cosentino  is enrolled in the University at Albany’s PhD program in English where she is studying queer theory and narratology in late 19th and early 20th century French, American, and British literature. She holds both a Bachelor’s degree in Adolescent English Education and a Master’s degree in English Literature from LIU Post. She teaches classes in composition, research, postcolonial literature, and queer theory; she also lectures on the works of Marcel Proust and Roland Barthes. She is in the process of writing her first book about queer literature of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Monika Pietrzak-Franger  is a guest professor in the English Department at Hamburg University, Germany. Her books include, as author, The Male Body and Masculinity: Representations of Men in British Visual Culture of the 1990s (2007) and, as (co-)editor, Adaptations. Performing across Media and Genres (2009), Reflecting on Darwin (2013), and Women, Beauty, Fashion (2013). She is preparing a monograph Spectres of Syphilis: Medicine, Knowledge and the Spectacle of Victorian (In)Visibility, which focuses on the visualization of the disease in late Victorian culture, for which she has received funding from the Volkswagen Foundation. In 2012, she was a visiting fellow in the Department of Anthropology at Washington University, St Louis. She has published on gender, medicine, visual culture and adaptation, and she is a co-editor of the journal Adaptation (OUP). Beatriz M. Reyes-Foster is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Central Florida. A medical anthropologist, she has conducted research on mental health in Mexico and peer milk sharing and vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC) in Central Florida. She and her collaborator, sociologist Shannon Carter, have published several articles on their work on peer milk sharing. Her articles have appeared in Anthropological Quarterly, The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, and Critical Discourse Studies. Wendy Ryden  is Associate Professor of English at LIU Post and Coordinator of the Writing Across the Curriculum Program. She has co-authored with Ian   Editors and Contributors     vii Marshall Reading, Writing, and the Rhetorics of Whiteness (2012) and is co-editor and contributor with Monika Elbert of the forthcoming collection, Haunting Realities: The Naturalist Gothic in American Realism (University of Alabama). She is also co-Chair with Irene Papoulis of the national Assembly for the Expanded Perspectives on Learning (AEPL), an NCTE assembly. JL Schatz  is Director of Debate at Binghamton University where he serves as a lecturer and teaches courses on media & politics out of the English Department. He has published book chapters on the representations of apocalypse in the Terminator films, the construction of disability in the Resident Evil films, and the ecological security in the TV show Lost. Schatz has also published peer-reviewed journal articles on apocalypse and the environment as well as subjectivity in relation to teaching pedagogy in debate. He has also co-edited a special issue for the Journal of Critical Animal Studies and has been in charge of organizing several conferences, including the 13th and 14th Annual North America Institute for Critical Animal Studies and the 1st and 2nd Annual Eco-Ability Conference. Joanne Townsend  holds a PhD on Venereal Disease in Victorian Britain, from the Department of History, University of Melbourne, Australia, in 1999. Her essay, “‘Unreliable Observations’: Medical Practitioners and Venereal Disease Patient Narratives in Victorian Britain,” has appeared in Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, Issue 9.2 (Summer 2013). Lisa Tyler  is Professor of English at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, where she has taught for more than 20 years. She is the editor of Teaching Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms (2008) and author of Student Companion to Ernest Hemingway (2001). She has presented at International Hemingway Society conferences in Stresa, Key West, Kansas City, Petoskey, and Venice, and has published articles on his writings in Hemingway Review, Texas Studies in Literature and Language, Journal of Men, Masculinities, and Spirituality, and half a dozen edited collections. Livia Arndal Woods  is a graduate teaching fellow at Queens College (CUNY) and a PhD candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center defending a dissertation titled “Heavy Expectations: Reading Pregnancy in the Victorian Novel” on October 30, 2016, under the direction of Professor Talia Schaffer. Her work has appeared in Victorian Network and Nineteenth Century Contexts and she will guest edit a forthcoming issue of Nineteenth Century Gender Studies in conjunction with the 2015 proceedings of the British Women Writers Conference, which she has co-chaired. Contents I ntroduction   1 Kari Nixon and Lorenzo Servitje Part I Structuring Syphilis   13  edical Mappings of Syphilis in the Late Nineteenth Century  15 M Monika Pietrzak-Franger  tigmatization, Syphilis, and Prostitution: The Discursive S Construction of Sex Workers, Disease, and Feeblemindedness  39 J. L. Schatz  arriage, Motherhood and the Future of the Race: Syphilis M in Late-Victorian and Edwardian Britain  67 Joanne Townsend  uspect Bodies, Suspect Milk: Milk Sharing, Wetnursing, S and the Specter of Syphilis in the Twenty-First Century  91 Beatriz M. Reyes-Foster and Shannon K. Carter ix x  Contents Part II Novel Infections  113  ot-So-Great Expectations: Pregnancy and Syphilis in Sarah N Grand’s The Heavenly Twins 115 Livia Arndal Woods  nspeakable Horror: Outing Syphilis in Joseph Conrad’s U Heart of Darkness 137 Nicole Cosentino and Wendy Ryden “ Everybody Has It”: Syphilis and the Human Condition in the Writings of Ernest Hemingway 163 Lisa Tyler Index 183 Introduction Kari Nixon and Lorenzo Servitje All diseases do cultural work. Syphilis has a particularly sordid history in this vein. Its specific etiology and symptomatology invited an array of (usually prejudicial) religious, political, and cultural uses. The disease took Europe by storm in the late 1490s, ever since then becoming a contested site of blame. Its venereal nature lent to its association early on with tainted sexuality. In the more medically advanced Victorian period, when a great deal more was understood about the disease from a scientific and public health perspective, it remained a prominent agent in shaping Western culture. As late as the 1880s, syphilis inspired hospital riots (Walkowitz 1980), punitive incarceration policies, and was surprisingly K. Nixon (*) Department of English, Whitworth University, Spokane, WA, United States L. Servitje Department of English and Health, Medicine, and Society Program, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, USA © The Author(s) 2018 K. Nixon, L. Servitje (eds.), Syphilis and Subjectivity, 1 2  K. Nixon and L. Servitje featured in a large proportion of artistic media, as novelists and playwrights featured it insistently in their work, leading one critic to c­ omplain that theaters had become “lazar house[s] with all...doors and windows open,” portraying “on the stage matters that a blind beggar would hide under his patches” (qtd. in Matos 2008, 353). Many critics, Sontag (1979) most famously, have pointed out, all diseases have symbolic meanings and manifestations. For instance, while tuberculosis was often characterized in the early nineteenth century as an indication of a “romantic” or sensitive spirit, possibly triggered by heartbreak, typhus, on the other hand, famously contrasted against tuberculosis in Jane Eyre (1847), viewed as a disease of poverty and overcrowding, with clear class-­markers attached to its mythos. Both remained signifiers of the individual ill body, however. Also deployed as a marker of class, character, and early in the nineteenth century, religious judgment, cholera was at the center of the debate between contagionist and miasma theorists, and was often seen as evidence of the need for sanitary intervention in lower-class neighborhoods. We name these few examples to demonstrate that while every disease comes complete with its concomitant cultural valences and mythologies, often, these were seen as needs for public sanitary reform, as reflections of the individual character, or as catastrophic acts of God, akin to other natural disasters. Syphilis, we suggest in this volume, stretched the bounds of the cultural work of disease into broader arenas dealing with individual and global subjecthood in an increasingly interconnected world. Today, we understand syphilis’s biological ontology as one of the several diseases that stem from pathogenic members of Treponema, a specific genus of a corkscrew-shaped family of bacteria known as spirochetes. It became easily treatable post-penicillin in the mid-twentieth century, and was overshadowed as the focus of attention by the advent of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and, more recently, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in the popular and news media. The disease is rarely fatal today (Catterall 2013). But, before this, it was the most dangerous and feared venereal disease for nearly the last five hundred years (Quétel 1992). What qualities made syphilis such a prominent social and cultural force historically? What are the disease’s contemporary resonances? Its ability to masquerade as other illnesses, for instance, lent it a fluidity that heightened its symbolic potential. Additionally, its c­ontagiousness,  Introduction  3 proclivity to disfigure and therefore to publicly “mark” its v­ ictims, its horrific manner of death via dementia—all of these factors rendered syphilis a disease that was particularly malleable, and capable of bolstering a wide range of social prejudices, anxieties, and power structures. And yet, given its notorious history in the disciplining and punishing of sexuality and its close ties to the history of unethical biomedical research, among other social determinants and effects, syphilis still has much to tell us about modernity and the subsequent legacies that followed the disease in our recent past and contemporary moment. Because of the biological realities of syphilis’s different symptomatology in its different stages, in addition to being an obvious marker of perceived physical impurity, it quickly became imbued with broader identities such as nationality, race, and gender, and was often rather predictably repurposed to bolster extant stigmas associated with these categories. Syphilis and Subjectivity seeks to broaden interdisciplinary scholarship on cultures of medicine by investigating how syphilis in particular has had a role in shaping modern subjectivity. Two areas of focus dominate most scholarship surrounding the disease: its emergence in the early modern period—along with the related Columbian question—and the Tuskegee Study. The significance of syphilis from the late 1400s to the 1800s marks its rapid appearance in the years following Columbus’s return from the voyage to the New World. Historical epidemiology has been fraught with debate about whether Columbus brought the disease back from overseas. The most recent forensic research that examines morphological and structural evidence in skeletal remains, however, suggests that it was widespread in Europe as early 1320 (Gaul et al. 2015). Whether it came from the Americas or mutated into a new, less virulent but significantly more contagious strain, in the sixteenth century, the “great pox” took a stranglehold on Europe. From this point forward, the disease prompted numerous medical writings, autobiographical counts, legislation, exclusionary measures, and accusatory writings (Quétel 1992). Within Europe, its origin became a question of ethnic and national blame. It was always somebody else’s disease: “The French Disease,” “The German Disease,” “The Spanish/Castilian disease,” or “The Jewish Disease” (Gilman 2010), among others.1 The history remembered by medical practitioners and researchers today, however, is not one of 4  K. Nixon and L. Servitje national but racial difference, one that is not centuries but only decades behind us, if only temporally. As numerous accounts have documented, syphilis’s most recent legacy left a festering wound in American medical history. The US Public Health Service studied syphilis’s effects in its full course—including the disfiguring and neurologically disabling, and potentially fatal tertiary stage—on African Americans from 1932 to 1972 under the pretext of gratis health care and guise of treating the nebulous condition of “Bad Blood.” In cooperation with Tuskegee University, the study enrolled 600 African American men from Macon County, Alabama. Those who had contracted syphilis were not actively treated with the miraculous antibiotic penicillin, which had been deployed all over the world to rid people of the affliction by the 1950s. The infamous Tuskegee Study ushered in a new era of research ethics that remain in place today, outlining guidelines for the Institutional Review Board (IRB) review and approval of any research projects involving human subjects. Both Harriet A. Washington’s (2006) Medical Apartheid and before it, James Jones’s (1981) Bad Blood have documented these social injustices and the unethical auspices that produced decades of suffering for the sake of medical data—a history poignantly captured in their titles. Scholarship in this vein has not only focused on bioethics, critical race theory, and social justice but also on medical communication and education, such as the residual mistrust of researchers and practitioners that remains in the African American community (Roberts 2008; Gamble 1997), exacerbated by the still problematic instances of race-based medicine such as the BiDil controversy of the early 2000s, as work in science and technology (STS) and critical race studies has suggested (Kahn 2014; Pollock 2012; Roberts 2011). And yet, given the early modern history, the Tuskegee Study, along with the development of penicillin and Salvarsan that has been extensively covered,2 the authors in the chapters that follow consider these significant moments in syphilis’s history, while focusing on other specific periods and cultural formations that reflect how the disease shaped collective and individual identity and experiences. In this capacity, the authors look toward a mix of cartography, medical writings, literature, historical periodicals, and contemporary popular discourses such as internet forums and electronic news media. Broadly, in this volume, we con-  Introduction  5 sider subjectivity in the capacity of the sets of power relations that structure human beings as subjects, both as agents of their own self-­ formation and as targets of economies of being and ethical regimes as characterized by theorists such as Foucault, Rabinow, and Rose. We consider syphilitic bodies as they have been subjected to the interrelated practices of reproductive futurity, statistical calculations, regulatory biopolitics, eugenicist discourses, and normalized models of gender, sexuality, and race. Indeed, although syphilis is often most famous for its ancient, medieval, and renaissance legacies, as demonstrated by the volume of scholarly work done on these periods and others predating the nineteenth century,3 the tincture which syphilis acquired in the post-germ theory age of the Victorian era had vast implications for the modern identity that persist today. While its role as a visible symbol of transgressive sexuality remained across time, the advent of the germ theory—ushered in the 1860s and bolstered by Pasteur’s experimentation in the 1880s and onward—introduced an era of epidemiological certainty and faith in medical science seen never before. The 1880s in particular saw a deluge of scientists struggling to make a name for themselves by discovering the next microbial pathogen specific to a particular disease—what Paul de Kruif dubbed the “Microbe Hunting Era.” In this latter half of the nineteenth century, the society was infuse...
View Full Document

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture