Elinor Cleghorn on the history of unwell women

In this talk first delivered in July 2021, historian Elinor Cleghorn takes a journey through the history of unwell women

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Elinor Cleghorn unpacks the roots of the perpetual misunderstanding, mystification and misdiagnosis of women’s bodies, and traces the journey from the ‘wandering womb’ of ancient Greece, the rise of witch trials in Medieval Europe, through the dawn of Hysteria, to modern day understandings of autoimmune diseases, the menopause and conditions like endometriosis. Packed with character studies of women who have suffered, challenged and rewritten medical orthodoxy – and drawing on her own experience of un-diagnosed Lupus disease – ‘Unwell Women’ is a ground-breaking and timely exposé of the medical world and woman’s place within it.

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Dr Elinor Cleghorn is a feminist cultural historian. After receiving her PhD in 2012, Elinor spent three years as a postdoctoral researcher on an interdisciplinary medical humanities project at the Ruskin School, University of Oxford. Elinor’s debut non-fiction book, Unwell Women: A Journey Through Medicine and Myth in a Man-Made World (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, UK) published in the UK in June 2021