Beth Linker

Associate Professor
Graduate Chair
Ph.D., Yale University, History
M.A., Michigan State, Bioethics, Health, and Humanities
B.S., Ithaca College, Physical Therapy
Contact Information
Office Address: 
322 Claudia Cohen Hall
linker (at) sas (dot) upenn (dot) edu
Office Hours: 
Thursdays 2pm-4pm
Teaching Fields: 

Beth Linker teaches courses in the history of medicine, the body, surgery, disability, American health policy, bioethics, public health; gender and health; history and sociology of medicalization. She is Associate Fellow in the Center for Bioethics, Core Faculty in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, and a graduate group member in the Department of History and the School of Nursing.

Research Interests: 

Social and cultural history of U.S. medicine and surgery in the 19th and 20th centuries, disability history, war studies, gender studies, as well as the history of bioethics, sexuality, and health care policy.

Documentary Films and Lectures:

“A Debt of Honor: The History of Disabled Veterans in America” PBS, Ric Burns (2015)

"What's the Matter with American Exceptionalism?" 60-second lecture (2011)

Civil Disabilities: Citizenship, Theory, and the Body, co-edited with Nancy Hirschmann (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2015).

War’s Waste: Rehabilitation in World War I America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011).

Selected Publications: 

"The Great War and Modern Health Care,” The New England Journal of Medicine (2016).

"Spines of Steel: A Case of Surgical Enthusiasm in America," The Bulletin of the History of Medicine (2016).

“Teamwork: Metaphors and Myths of Equality in the Health-Care Setting,Nursing History Review (2016).

“Integrating Disability, Transforming Disease History: Tuberculosis and Its Past” with Emily Abel, in Civil Disabilities (2015).

“Half of Man: the Symbolism and Science of Paraplegic Impotence in World War II America,” with Whitney Laemmli, Osiris (2015).

"On the Borderland of Medical and Disability History," Bulletin of the History of Medicine (Winter 2013)

"Beware of the One-Armed Soldier," Public Books (February 2013).

"A Dangerous Curve: The Role of History in America's Scoliosis Screening Programs," American Journal of Public Health (April 2012).

“Shooting Disabled Soldiers: Medicine and Photography in World War I America,” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences (June 2010).

“Feet for Fighting: Locating Disability and Social Medicine in World War I America,”  Social History of Medicine (April 2007).[winner of the 2005 Roy Porter Memorial Essay Prize]

"Resuscitating the ‘Great Doctor’: The Career of Biography in Medical History,” In Thomas Söderqvist, ed., Poetics of Biography in Science, Technology, and Medicine (Aldershoot: Ashgate Press, 2007).

"Strength and Science: Gender, Physiotherapy, and Medicine in Early-Twentieth-Century America" J. of Women's History (Fall 2005).

“The Business of Ethics: Gender, Medicine, and the Professional Codification of the American Physiotherapy Association, 1918-1935,” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences (July 2005).[winner of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities essay award]

Works in Progress:

Surplus Surgery: An American History

Slouch: The Rise and Fall of American Posture

Book Images: 
War's Waste
[image of book cover]
[image of book cover]
Curriculum Vitæ: 
AHR review of War's Waste.pdf94.21 KB
JAH review of War's Waste.pdf47.58 KB
ISIS review of War's Waste.pdf103.35 KB
NHR review of War's Waste.pdf219.81 KB
HSOC 140 history of bioethics syllabus.pdf148.75 KB
HSSC 561 Disability: History and Theory syllabus.pdf121.68 KB
HSOC 042 Snip and Tuck F10 syllabus.pdf274.85 KB
HSSC 541 Issues in American Medicine syllabus.pdf18.91 KB
HSOC 413 Perfect Bodies syllbus F10.pdf129.57 KB
HSOC 041 Disability in History syllabus S07.pdf154.54 KB
HSOC 150 American Health Policy syllabus S11..pdf223.97 KB
HSSC 532 Medicalization: History and Theory syllabus.pdf138.43 KB
HSSC 541 Science of Sexology syllabus.doc53.5 KB