Barbara Baumgartner

Barbara Baumgartner

Teaching Professor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Director of WGSS Undergraduate Studies
PhD, Northwestern University
research interests:
  • American Women's Literature
  • Medical History
  • Healthcare

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1078
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

Barbara Baumgartner's teaching and research interests are rooted in her educational and professional backgrounds in literature and medicine. Her current research examines the ways in which women’s bodies were represented, discussed, and understood in nineteenth-century medical texts, medical journals, and popular literature.

My teaching and research interests are rooted in my educational and professional backgrounds in literature and medicine. My undergraduate degree is a Bachelors of Science in Nursing, which I received from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Over the course of the thirteen years I was a practicing RN, I worked in the pediatric neurosurgery unit at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, for the Chair of Neurology at Northwestern University, and finally in the Outpatient Surgery Unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. When I started the PhD program in English at Northwestern University, I thought I was leaving nursing and medicine behind. But when formulating my dissertation topic, I discovered that my past education and experience in medicine informed my research and writing about nineteenth-century American literature. My dissertation, "Reading and Writing Bodily Violence in Nineteenth-Century American Women's Writing” began a pattern of combining my interests in the body and medicine with my study of literature. In my current research, I examine the ways in which women’s bodies were represented, discussed, and understood in nineteenth-century medical texts, medical journals, and popular literature. My teaching reflects this historical emphasis as well as my interest in contemporary gender issues, women’s literature, women’s health, and women in science.

Courses Taught



  • Introduction to Women & Gender Studies

  • Before Thelma and Louise: American Women Adventure Stories

  • Scribbling Women: Nineteenth-Century American Women Authors

  • Women’s Health Care in America

  • Contemporary Women’s Health

  • Service Learning: Women in Prison

  • FOCUS: History of Women in Science: (co-taught)

  • FOCUS: Women in Science: Contemporary Issues (co-taught)