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Avila University
11901 Wornall Road
Kansas City, MO 64145

Nancy Cervetti

Nancy Cervetti

Nancy Cervetti
Professor of English
B.A., Ph.D. University of Iowa
M.A. Drake University
Curriculum Vitae

(816) 501-3652


Nancy Cervetti joined the Avila University faculty in 1993 after receiving her Ph.D. in nineteenth-century British literature and feminist theory from the University of Iowa in Iowa City. At Avila she teaches British literature, Darwin and Literature, women’s studies, and literary theory and criticism. Professor Cervetti has published several articles in journals such as Women’s Studies, The Journal of Modern Literature, the Arizona Quarterly, and the Journal of Medical Humanities. She has given presentations in Kansas City and at national conferences. Her awards include Wood Fellowships from the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. For over ten years the nineteenth-century American neurologist and novelist S. Weir Mitchell has been the focus of Professor Cervetti’s research. Her biography of Mitchell will be published by Pennsylvania State University Press in September, 2012.

Silas MitchellS. Weir Mitchell, 1829–1914: Philadelphia's Literary Physician
By Nancy Cervetti

Publish Date: Expected 8/29/2012
Dimensions: 6 x 9
Page Count: 280 pages
Illustrations: 18 illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-05403-2

“This book is the first modern, reliable biography of S. Weir Mitchell based on thorough research and careful, scholarly use of a wide range of primary sources. The research and interpretation here are highly original. Nancy Cervetti's biography uses new information about Mitchell to provide a complex and fascinating interpretation of his life, his work, and his significance to American literature and culture.”
— Gregory Eiselein, Kansas State University

“Nancy Cervetti shows us the ‘whole’ S. Weir Mitchell as he revealed himself through his unpublished autobiography and copious correspondence. She has mined a veritable mountain of primary sources, including Mitchell's scientific papers, and elegantly integrated them all into this beautifully written biography. Cervetti's original approach to Mitchell's work provides readers with a treasure trove of information about Mitchell's family life, research career, literary aspirations, and travels. The precious primary source materials shine like gems in the setting of Cervetti's helpful historical context.”
— Lisa A. Long, North Central College

“The name of Silas Weir Mitchell shades discussions of medicine, feminist literature, and the social, scientific, and literary conversations at the dawn of the twentieth century. Over a half century has elapsed since the last substantive biography of a man who ‘built a power house of a life,’ as Nancy Cervetti describes Mitchell. She has written a stunning, holistic reconnaissance of Mitchell’s work from Civil War neurology to his insights in psychiatry and hysteria, his popular literature, and his antagonism toward women’s rights. Cervetti’s fascinating biographical sculpture communicates Mitchell’s ‘keen sense of life as a performance’ and will inspire new scholarship and appeal to a readership as broad as Mitchell’s own reading publics.”
— Robert Hicks, Mütter Museum/Historical Library, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

“You will find many Mitchells in Nancy Cervetti’s book: rambunctious boy, unfocused youth, budding physician, committed experimentalist, pioneering neurologist, bibliophile, poet, novelist, socialite, fisherman, medical graybeard, feted celebrity, and cultural Polonius. The threads Cervetti uses to weave the fabric of his life are his need to write and his attitude toward women. They stitch together a fascinating nineteenth-century life, with its successes, failures, and contradictions.”
— Charles Greifenstein, American Philosophical Society

List of Illustrations    
A Note on the Text    
1    Family Matters
2    Letters Home    
3    The Young Physiologist    
4    War’s Awful Harvest    
5    Wind and Tide    
6    Pandora’s Box    
7    The Apple or the Rose    
8    The Literary Physician    
9    Combat Zones    
10    Great Doctor, Poet, and Salmon Killer    
11    Winter’s Sorrow        
12    The New Century