Bates Center Seminar Series - "Working Mothers: How the Consumer Thermometer Created a New Medical Laborer"
Speaker: Deanna Day, The University of Pennsylvania
Date and Time: April 10, 12:00pm to 1:30pm in Room 2019, Floor 2U, Claire Fagin Hall
Abstract: Over the course of the past century, our dominant characterization of the American patient has been as a consumer, controlling her health by educating herself and exercising her rights at the point of sale. This seminar explores an alternative model, arguing that the American patient can be more fully understood as a scientific laborer who uses the same tools, methods, and epistemology as her physicians. This talk traces the history of this medical work by following one of the earliest scientific tools used in the home, the consumer medical thermometer. The thermometer was one of the first such tools to enter regular use in the home, with mothers being instructed in "family thermometry" beginning in the 1870s. As thermometers became tied to women's work and naturalized in the home, they also became crucial tools in another home health care practice, using temperature charting to track fertility. In these linked and reinforcing sets of practice, the thermometer has played a crucial and unexamined role in the creation of the modern mother. Click Here to RSVP.
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