The Health Sciences Library will host the exhibit Literature of Prescription: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Yellow Wall-Paper from Monday November 14, 2011 through Friday December 30, 2011.
In the late nineteenth century, at a time when women were challenging traditional ideas about gender that excluded them from political and intellectual life, medical and scientific experts drew on notions of female weakness to justify inequality between the sexes. Artist and writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who was discouraged from pursuing a career to preserve her health, rejected these ideas in a short story titled, The Yellow Wall-Paper. The tale served as an indictment of the medical profession and the social conventions restricting women’s professional and creative opportunities.
Charlotte’s doctor, nerve specialist Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, focused on the treatment of women with nervous exhaustion, devising a “rest cure” in which the patient was not allowed to read, write, feed herself, or talk to others.
Charlotte rejected Mitchell’s prescription to give up all her intellectual pursuits, and instead picked up her pen and wrote. First published in 1892, her story, about a young woman driven mad by the rest cure, has been reprinted many times and is now considered a classic of feminist literature.
This exhibition is brought to you by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Curated by Manon Parry.
Open to the public Sunday to Thursday, 2-4 p.m. with limited parking available.