Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
University of Massachusetts Boston
Website URL
history of medicine, gender and sexuality, history of disease, history of the body, early modern, British history
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Olivia Weisser is Associate Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her research specialty is health, healing, and the body in Britain in the 1500s-1700s. Her first book, Ill Composed (Yale University Press 2015), examined how gender shaped patients’ perceptions of sickness in the 1600s and 1700s. The book was a finalist for the 2015 Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Award and short-listed for a 2016 British Medical Association Book Award.

She is currently working on a new book on the history of venereal diseaseThis research focuses on a group of venereal specialists living and working in London in the early 1700s. While centered on a single disease, the project tells a broader story about life in the city, everyday beliefs about sexuality, medical retailing, and clinical practice.

Recent Publications


Ill Composed: Sickness, Gender, and Belief in Early Modern England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015; paperback 2016).

Republic of Venus: Sex, Sin, and Venereal Disease in Early Modern London, book manuscript in progress.

Editor, Early Modern Medicine: A Source-Centered Introduction, under contract with Routledge Press.


“Poxed and Ravished: Venereal Disease in Early Modern Rape Trials,” History Workshop Journal, expected Spring 2021.

“Treating the Secret Disease: Sex, Sin, and Authority in 18th-Century Venereal Cases,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 91 (2017): 685-712.

“Grieved and Disordered: Gender and Emotion in Early Modern Patient Narratives,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 43 (2013): 247-273.

“Boils, Pushes, and Wheals: Reading Bumps on the Body in Early Modern England,” Social History of Medicine 22 (2009): 321-339.

Book Chapters

“Affective Responses to Illness and Death,” in The Routledge History of Women in Early Modern Europe, ed. Amanda Capern (Routledge Press, 2019): 97-112.

“Poxt and Clapt Together: Sexual Misbehavior in Early Modern Cases of Venereal Disease,” in The Hidden Affliction: Sex, Disease and Infertility in History, ed. Simon Szeter (University of Rochester Press, 2019): 68-89.

“A Cultural History of Disease from the Patient’s Perspective,” in A Cultural History of Medicine in the Renaissance (1450-1650), vol. 3, eds. Elaine Leong and Claudia Stein (Berg/Bloomsbury, expected 2020).

Media Coverage
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
British Isles, United Kingdom
Expertise by Chronology
2, 3, 4, 6
Expertise by Topic
Gender, Medicine, Sexuality, Sexual Violence, Women