A depiction of cholera by Robert Seymour

Disease Theory in Mary Shelley’s The Last Man

Shelley's third novel, about the sole survivor of a global plague, draws on the now-outdated miasma theory of disease.
A locust standing on a sugar cane.

COVID-19, Locusts, and Elephant Minds

Well-researched stories from The Atlantic, The Guardian, and other great publications that bridge the gap between news and scholarship.
Hollywood film star and actress Jacqueline Logan preparing a rug pattern for embroidery, c. 1928

Why Modern Women Got All Colonial in the 1920s

Flappers stole the headlines for their hemlines and wild ways. But were some of them stitching samplers in the meantime?

The Masculinization of Little Lord Fauntleroy

The 1936 movie Little Lord Fauntleroy broke box office records, only to be toned down and masculinized amid cultural fears of the “sissified” male.
The title page of Life and confession of Ann Walters, the female murderess

How “Female Fiends” Challenged Victorian Ideals

At a time when questions about women's rights in marriage roiled society, women readers took to the pages of cheap books about husband-murdering wives.

18th-Century Lovers Exchanged Portraits of Their Eyes

The miniature paintings celebrated and commemorated love at a time when public expressions of affection were uncouth.
The Decameron by John William Waterhouse

Boccaccio’s Medicine

In the Decameron of Boccaccio, friends tell one another stories of love to while away the hours of quarantine.
A portrait of Emily Dickinson in front of an evolutionary illustration

How Emily Dickinson Wrestled with Darwinism

The current vogue for the Amherst poet needs to give credit to the way she readily examined her childhood ideas about fixed and immutable truth.
Jeanne Cagney in Quicksand

How Film Noir Tried to Scare Women out of Working

In the period immediately following World War II, the femme fatale embodied a host of male anxieties about gender roles.
Doris Day in Calamity Jane

Doris Day Changed Us Forever

What did women coming of age in the 1950s think of Doris Day in Calamity Jane? Does her filmography have the same meaning now?