My research concerns how we come to know our bodies. I am particularly interested in the ways that varying models of the female reproductive body influence women’s understandings of their own bodies, as well as our cultural ability to imagine alternate forms of reproduction. I am also interested in the ways that hormones construct communities, and am working to examine the links created by sources such as environmental toxins, medicinal and diagnostic technologies, and pheromonal connections. My work takes place at the intersection of feminist new materialism, health humanities, and literary and cultural studies.
Diagnosing Growth: The Problem of Development in Reproductive Culture
My current book-project, Diagnosing Growth: The Problem of Development in Reproductive Culture, examines the impact of models of embryological development on cultural conceptions of reproduction and pregnancy. I argue that the interest in the developmental progression made visible by these models—a progression that can be found on fertility websites, in magazines given out during prenatal appointments, and in pregnancy manuals—shapes and impacts our ability to view the potential alternative developmental courses that occur throughout pregnancy. By tying together temporal and embodied growth, this model suggests that the unfolding of pregnancy is an inevitable occurrence—an inevitability that has permeated popular, scholarly, literary, and theoretical work on reproduction. Other pregnancies—those that end in miscarriage or abortion, or those that follow a different developmental trajectory—fail to be accounted for by this scientific model. Through an examination of theoretical texts, forums, and literary depictions of reproduction, I argue that a break from this embryological model is necessary in order to fully examine the implications of the interrelation between technologies, cells, and women’s embodied experiences without subordinating any of the three.
Communities of Signals: A Rhetoric of Hormones
My second book-project theorizes what I refer to as hormone communities. These communities, made of and around hormone molecules by humans, non-humans, molecules, environments, and technologies, surround us and compose us. By providing a rhetorical reading of the hormone community as a site of literacy training and connection, I illustrate the way that a molecular understanding of embodiment may help us better understand and negotiate health communications.