UMass Boston

Olivia Weisser

Grad Prog Dir/Assoc Professor
McCormack Hall Floor 04


I joined the History Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2012, after earning a PhD in the History of Medicine from Johns Hopkins University in 2010 and teaching writing at Princeton University for two years. My research focuses on health, healing, medicine, and the body in early modern England.

Area of Expertise

History of medicine; early modern Europe; British history; history of gender and sexuality


PhD (History of Medicine) Johns Hopkins University

BA (History) Wesleyan University

Professional Publications & Contributions


Journal Articles

  • “Poxed and Ravished: Venereal Disease in Early Modern Rape Trials,” (Winner of the Judith R. Walkowitz Prize) History Workshop Journal 91 (2021): 51-70.
  • "Histories of the Pox," History Compass (2021).
  • "Concepts of Contagion in Gideon Harvey’s Great Venus Unmasked,” Harvard Library Bulletin (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,” (Roy Porter Memorial Prize Essay) Social History of Medicine 22 (2009): 321-339.

Book Chapters

  • “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 (Bloomsbury, 2021): 63-83.
  • “Affective Responses to Illness and Death,” in The Routledge History of Women in Early Modern Europe, ed. Amanda Capern (Routledge, 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 Szreter (University of Rochester Press, 2019): 68-89.

Additional Information

My first book, Ill Composed, examined how gender shaped patients’ perceptions in the 1600s and 1700s. The book was a finalist for the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Award and short-listed for a British Medical Association Book Award.

I am currently finishing up a new book on venereal disease in the 1600s and 1700s. Although it is centered on a single disease in London, the book tells a broader story about urban life, everyday ideas about sexuality, medical retailing, and clinical practice. I also recently edited a book that provides an introduction to early modern medicine and primary source analysis. I am grateful to have received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Historical Association, Institute of Historical Research, and Huntington Library, among others.


  • Leeches to Lasers: Medicine and Health in America (HIST 171)
  • Health and Healing in Early Modern Europe (HIST 314)
  • Shakespeare’s London (HIST 322)
  • Gender, Sex, and Society (1600-1800) (HIST 481)
  • Pandemics (HIST 681)
  • Women’s Health and Healing (HIST 632)