March In Review

Editor’s Note: As you may have noticed, we here at Points have not been publishing our regular Week in Review lately. Instead, we’re experimenting with a new monthly review column that will allow our readership to get a more holistic sense of the various projects Points’ contributors have been working on. This means that, in the interest of brevity, we will be offering less discussion of recent articles. Instead, we will provide reader with more straightforward references which, we hope, will promote ease-of-use. If you have any thoughts on our recent changes, please drop us a line at or leave a comment below.

March 2012 was one of Points’ busiest months ever, as the site’s army of contributing writers continued to provide us with original content nearly every day. From our innovative symposium to a spate of articles on drugs and alcohol in popular culture, we were happy to bring an extraordinary variety of voices to Points over the last four weeks.

Points’ biggest undertaking this month was undoubtedly our symposium “Addiction, History, and Historians,” a series of commentaries on David Courtwright’s provocative article “Addiction and the Science of History.” We were lucky enough to convince a number top-rate scholars to provide us with their own responses to Dr. Courtwright’s article. We started off the symposium with meditations from Points Contributing Editor Nancy Campbell, Alex Mold of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Clarkson University Professor of Anthropology Daniel Bradburd, and Columbia University Professor of History Samuel Roberts. With these four incisive, powerful posts in hand, Dr. Courtwright, himself a Professor of History at the University of North Florida, relayed a compelling response. Longtime Points friend and contributor Ron Roizen wrapped up the symposium with a spritely reply to Dr. Courtwright’s reply, which he accompanied with a truly memorable work of outsider art. 

Lexington Narcotic Farm

Points’ “Addiction, History, and Historians” symposium was not our only ongoing project throughout the month of March, of course. Continuing on from February, we relayed episodes twothree (a), and three (b) of Nancy Campbell, Luke Walden, and JP Olsen’s fascinating series on the Lexington Narcotic Hospital. We urge any of our readers who have even a passing interest in medicalization and institutionalization to take a look at these great posts.

We also hope you’ll make a point – if you haven’t done so already – of dropping in on a pair of Trysh Travis’ recent articles, penned partly in recognition of Women’s History Month. Trysh, who has spent a substantial portion of the month mining archives in search of the essence of radical feminists’ experiences with substance abuse and addiction, set out some of her thoughts on that topic in “Feminist Anti-Addiction Discourse: Towards a Research Agenda.” She was also good enough to share her early research findings, discussing a recently-uncovered short interview with feminist poet and NYRW member Lucille Iverson, a piece that concludes with Iverson’s call to radical feminists to actively engage with “female junkies.” After taking in Trysh’s posts, readers may also go on to enjoy Elaine Carey’s post “The Mule.” Elaine’s article is a timely and contemplative look into the image of the female “drug mule” and the ways in which we construct that archetype culturally, intellectually, and politically.

As usual, Points received a number of excellent one-off pieces this month. James Nicholls bequeathed to us two alcohol-related posts, “Continental drinking: Qu’est-ce que c’est?” a discussion of British versus Continental drinking habits, and “Alcohol Policy: a Risky Business,” a review of the UK Government’s new Alcohol Strategy. Carleton University’s Mike McLaughlin provided a sampling from his dissertation-in-progress by marking the most famous of Hiberno-American holidays with “St. Patrick’s Day and Temperance: An Unlikely Duo?” Near the end of the month, Charles Ambler published “In Search of the Drunken Native,” showing the less celebratory side of alcohol’s role in civic life. She notes, quite movingly, some of the imperial, commercial, and sentimental complications of the ubiquitous “drunken native” story.

Points also posted a triad of drug-related one-off pieces, covering that topic from a variety of perspectives. Stephen Snelders’ “On Speed: James Bond and the Myth of the Nazi Superman” searches for the historical significance of drugs in the work of Ian Fleming, the British writer who famously bestowed a taste for Benzedrine (“speed”) use unto his famous spy character, James Bond. Brad Fidler, in the first part of his new series on the use of psychiatric drugs in the treatment of mental illness, gave us a look at the politicized nature of the drug industry in “Qnexa in America: Thinner, Happier, and Less Reactive” and, later in the month, Joe Gabriel’s “Aesthetics and the Failure of the FDA’s Cigarette Warning Labels” discussed the government’s use of grotesque images on cigarette cartons and what is gained and lost in such an initiative.

Rick Scott

We also provided our readers each weekend with an edition of “Weekend Reads,” an attempt to tie the news of the day in with larger perspectives on drug and alcohol use, addiction, and the politics surrounding those issues. We began the month by looking at suspected “doper” Ryan Braun. We then looked at how certain elements of the media tried to insinuate alcoholism into the early death of child actor Neil Hope. We then ended the month on a political note, asking, in successive weeks, what the importance of Pat Robertson’s softening stance on marijuana possession might be and what it means that Florida Governor Rick Scott is planning to drug test public employees.

We’ve had a busy month here at Points and we thank you, our readership, for your continued support.

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Doctoral candidate at the University of Florida, Department of History. Part-time Ro-Man.

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