Un(dis)covered Bodies: Science, Narrative, and the Female Body in Activist Medical Fiction


In my book project, Un(dis)covered Bodies: Science, Narrative, and the Female Body in Activist Medical Fiction, I argue that women writers of medical fiction resisted censorship of social hygiene–or sex education–under federal Comstock Law by rescripting scientific narratives that designate the female body as disabled. From Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins (1874) to Angelina Weld Grimke’s Rachel (1916), I examine several works of woman-authored medical fiction through a feminist body theory lens as a way of revealing how women writers of medical fiction distance themselves from the concept of disability by redefining the female body in terms of race and impairment. Using theorists such as Judith Butler, Anne Fausto-Sterling, and Alison Kafer, I discuss how women writers use fiction as a medium for theorizing the female body as flexible, dependent, hybrid, and relational in ways that challenge the biological determinism of paternal medical narratives, yet re-script boundaries, or create “agential cuts” (to use Karen Barad’s phrase), for disability and race. Importantly, white women writers and women-of-color writers strove to (1) educate their female audience about reproductive health and the female body and (2) challenge socially-constructed definitions of sex in nineteenth-century professional medicine during a period of censorship in the United States. However, these women writers rescript the very rhetoric of disability they seek to challenge, a move which re-inscribes oppressive binaries for disability and race.

Research & Teaching Interests


Nineteenth-Century American Literature

Early Twentieth-Century American Literature

Rhetoric and Composition/Genre Studies (e.g. Utopian Studies, Science Fiction Studies, Environmental Literature)

Women’s and Gender Studies

Feminist Theory

Disability Studies

Medical Humanities

Ecocriticism, Environmental Theory (including posthumanism, new materialisms, and theories of the Anthropocene)



PhD in English 

Certificate in Women's and Gender Studies

University of Texas at Arlington

Dissertation Title: Disabling Sex Education: Science, Narrative, and the Female Body in Feminist Medical Fiction, 1874-1916 

Committee: Kenneth Roemer (Chair), Stacy Alaimo, Neill Matheson, Desiree Henderson

May 2017

MA in Humanities - Studies in Literature

Spanish Language Exam

University of Texas at Dallas

Thesis Portfolio: "Mapping Faulkner" and "Masters of the Great Art of Telling the Truth: The Rhetoric of Silence in Melville's Benito Cereno and Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury"  

Thesis Advisor: Theresa M. Towner

May 2011

BA in Literature, 

Minor in Spanish and Hispanic Area Studies

University of Texas at Dallas

December 2009