Published less than one month after the United States Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson overturned the protection of abortion as a constitutional right, Dana Medoro’s timely, incisive book, Certain Concealments: Poe, Hawthorne, and Early Nineteenth-Century Abortion, illuminates the longstanding entanglement of anti-abortion ideology and American nationalism. As Medoro demonstrates, both Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne composed some of their most famous works just as abortion was becoming a matter of public debate. The expansion of print technologies in the early nineteenth century granted women easier access to information on controlling reproduction than ever before, and the rise of the pharmaceutical industry made abortifacients more available and advertisements for them much more visible. The backlash against this proliferating discourse similarly occupied public attention, and Medoro offers the media’s harsh treatment of early nineteenth-century America’s most notorious abortion provider—a woman known as Madame Restell—as essential to abortion’s publicity....
Review: Certain Concealments: Poe, Hawthorne, and Early Nineteenth-Century Abortion, by Dana Medoro
Jess Libow is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Haverford College. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, ESQ: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture, and Common-place: The Journal of Early American Life. She is currently at work on a book that traces how women writers leveraged their expertise in the domestic health science of physical education to intervene in debates about sex, race, and citizenship.
Jess Libow; Review: Certain Concealments: Poe, Hawthorne, and Early Nineteenth-Century Abortion, by Dana Medoro. Nineteenth-Century Literature 1 September 2023; 78 (2): 172–175. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ncl.2023.78.2.172
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