Dr. Whitney Wood

Dr. Whitney  Wood
Adjunct Professor
Department of History

HBA (Lakehead), MA (Lakehead), PhD (Wilfrid Laurier University)

Area of expertise

History of Health and Medicine; Gender History; Cultural History; Canadian History


History of Health and Medicine; Gender History; Cultural History; Canadian History 


Originally from Northwestern Ontario, I received my undergraduate and master’s degrees at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, before going on to complete a PhD at Wilfrid Laurier University (part of the Tri-University Graduate Program with the University of Waterloo and the University of Guelph) in 2016. I spent two years as a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, and completed an Associated Medical Services postdoctoral fellowship in the history of medicine at the University of Calgary, before joining Vancouver Island University as Canada Research Chair in the Historical Dimensions of Women’s Health in 2019. My current projects explore the cultural and medical history of childbirth in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, gendered medical violence, and the history of women’s pain experiences across the life cycle.


Selected Publications


Birth Pangs: Maternity, Medicine, and Feminine Delicacy in English Canada, 1867-1940. Under contract with McGill-Queen’s University Press. 

Special Journal Issues

with Joanna Bourke, ed. “Special Forum: Gender and Pain in Modern History,” Gender & History 32, no. 1 (March 2020): 8-85. 

Articles and Book Chapters

“Medicare and Maternity: Historicizing Inequities in Women’s Health,” in Medicare’s First Fifty Years: Critical Historical Perspectives on Canada’s Public Health Care System, eds. Esyllt Jones, James Hanley, and Delia Gavrus (under contract with University of Manitoba Press). 

“‘Don’t tell them you’re guessing’: Learning Obstetrics in Canadian Medical Schools, c. 1890-1920,” in Medical Education: A History in 20 Case Studies, eds. Delia Gavrus and Susan Lamb (under contract with McGill-Queen’s University Press). 

 “Pride, Shame, and Anger: Women’s Struggles to Achieve Natural Childbirth in Postwar Canada,” in Affect and Activism: Second-Wave Feminism and the History of Emotions, eds. Catherine Gidney, Lara Campbell, and Michael Dawson (under contract with University of British Columbia Press). 

with Joanna Bourke, “Conceptualizing Gender and Pain in Modern History,” Gender & History 31, no. 1 (March 2020): 8-12. 

“Spreading the Gospel of Natural Birth: Canadian Contributions to an International Medical Movement, 1945-1960,” in Undiplomatic History: Rethinking Canada in the World, eds. Asa McKercher and Philip Van Huizen (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019), 137-162. 

“‘Put right under’: Obstetric Violence in Postwar Canada,” Social History of Medicine 31, no. 4 (December 2018): 796-817. 

“Shifting Understandings of Labour Pain in Canadian Medical History,” British Medical Journal: Medical Humanities 44, no. 2 (June 2018): 82-88. 

“‘Bound to be a troublesome time’: Canadian Perceptions of Pregnancy, Parturition, and Pain, 1867-1930,” in Perceptions of Pregnancy from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century, eds. Jennifer Evans and Ciara Meehan (Houndsmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 35-55. 

“‘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.