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Dr Whitney Wood

BA (Hons), MA (Lakehead University), PhD (Wilfrid Laurier University)

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Contact details



  • I am a historian of medicine specializing in the study of gender, sexuality, and reproduction in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century English Canada.
  • I received my PhD from Wilfrid Laurier University in February 2016. I currently hold a two-year fellowship funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Research and teaching

  • My research grows out of an interest in the history of the body and bodily sensations including pain. My doctoral dissertation, “Birth Pangs: Maternity, Medicine, and Feminine Delicacy, 1867-1950,” explored how the pain women experienced in giving birth was conceptualized by physicians, by women themselves, and by late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century English-Canadian society. I am currently revising a book manuscript based on this project for publication. My new project builds on my PhD research to study the history of the early natural childbirth movement in Canada. More broadly, my research interests include women’s history, the history of gender and the history of sexuality, and the history of medicine and health.
  • I have experience teaching courses in modern social history and the history of sexuality at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo (Canada).


  • Articles and chapters
  • “‘Bound to be a troublesome time’: Canadian Perceptions of Pregnancy, Parturition, and Pain, 1867-1930,” Perceptions of Pregnancy Edited Collection, eds. Jennifer Evans and Ciara Meehan. Under contract with Palgrave MacMillan.
  • “‘The Luxurious Daughters of Artificial Life’: Female ‘Delicacy’ and Pain in Late-Victorian Advice Literature,” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 31, no. 2 (Fall 2014): 71-92.
  • “‘When I think of what is before me, I feel afraid’: Narratives of Fear, Pain, and Childbirth in Late-Victorian Canada,” in Pain and Emotion in Modern History, ed. Rob Boddice (Houndsmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 187-203.
  • Reviews
  • Review of Small Matters: Canadian Children in Sickness and Health, 1900-1940 by Mona Gleason. Bulletin of the History of Medicine 89, no. 1 (Spring 2015): 144-5.
  • Review of Deliver Me from Pain: Anesthesia and Birth in America by Jacqueline H. Wolf. Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 31, no. 2 (Fall 2014): 259-61.
  • Review of Fostering Nation? Canada Confronts Its History of Childhood Disadvantage by Veronica Strong-Boag. H-Canada (October 2012).

Current activities

  • I am currently a SSHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Birkbeck, working on a project entitled “A New Way to Birth? The Natural Birth Movement in English Canada, 1930-1980” under the supervision of Professor Joanna Bourke. Taking a multi-sited approach, this project investigates the history of natural childbirth ideologies and practices that represented some of the first significant and organized opposition to the medicalization of childbirth that had been ongoing since the second half of the nineteenth century, and situates Canadian developments and discussions in the broader context of this international medical movement.
  • I am also an Assistant Editor at NOTCHES: (re)marks on the history of sexuality.

Honours and awards

  • 2016-2018 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Postdoctoral Fellowship