(P)rescription Narratives: Feminist Medical Fiction and the Failure of American Censorship
Under Contract with Edinburgh University Press. Forthcoming, September 2022. (P)rescription Narratives reveals how the act of narrative creates the subjects of disability, race, and gender during a period of censorship in American history. In a Crip Affect reading of woman-authored medical fiction from the Comstock Law era, Stephanie Peebles Tavera argues that women writers of medical fiction practice storytelling as a form of narrative medicine that prescribes various forms of healing as an antidote to the shame engineered by an American culture of censorship. The woman-authored medical fiction of Louisa May Alcott, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Francis Ellen Watkins Harper, among others, exposes the limitations of social construction and materiality in conversations about the female body since subject formation relies upon multiple force relations that shape and are shaped by one another in ongoing processes that do not stop even in our efforts to interpret cultural artifacts. These multiple failures – to censor, to resist, to interpret – open up a space for negotiating how we engage the world with greater empathy.

Part of the Interventions in Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture series, edited by Christopher Hanlon, Sarah Ruffing Robbins, and Andrew Taylor.