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Bodies at War

Title: Bodies at War: Bacteriology and the Carrier Narratives of "Typhoid Mary".
Name(s): Hostetler, Tara Elizabeth, author
Rai, Amit S., professor directing thesis
Shinn, Christopher, committee member
Fenstermaker, John, committee member
Department of English, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2007
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: In this thesis, I explore the carrier narratives of Mary Mallon, or "Typhoid Mary," and their intersections with developments in medical science and immigration policies at the time. To construct this case, I sought texts within the much larger study of the history of science and medicine underway in many different fields—from history to sociology to psychology to literature. From the treatment of the carrier and the implications for modern medical practice and contagious disease to issues with regulating immigration, this narrative is constructed within an important frame of reference. My research, which also falls under the broader umbrella of cultural studies, focuses on how immigrants in general (chapter 1) and "Typhoid Mary" specifically (chapter 2) are constructed in these moments. The texts I gathered for analysis ranged from articles in medical journals to short news stories to statements from health officials, most originally published somewhere between 1900 and 1930. I discovered that metaphors of the body born in the examination room transcended to the courtroom and the battlefield, and vice versa. This was all happening at the same moment that bacteriology was lending a new level of authority to scientific medicine. What sets my analysis apart from previous scholarship on "Typhoid Mary" is that I want to focus more on locating the body in the complexity of metaphors that were perhaps too easily slipping between the medical field and the imagining of the nation as a body. The description of the individual-body's immune system recognizing and rebelling against "harmful foreign intruders" was also believed to be a "natural response" of the nation-body. As described by Emily Martin, this idea of defense was "written into 'nature' at the level of the cell" (421). Yet I attempt to investigate what happens when these metaphors are reimagined or revisited in terms of what has more recently been discovered as part of the body's "natural response" – that bacteria and resistance to infection are more companion than enemy.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-3740 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Thesis submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester, 2007.
Date of Defense: July 25, 2007.
Keywords: Healthy Carrier, Mary, Typhoid, Bacteriology, Public Health Programs
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Amit S. Rai, Professor Directing Thesis; Christopher Shinn, Committee Member; John Fenstermaker, Committee Member.
Subject(s): English literature
English language
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Hostetler, T. E. (2007). Bodies at War: Bacteriology and the Carrier Narratives of "Typhoid Mary". Retrieved from