Mary M. Mahoney

Mary Margaret Mahoney, History Department, UConnContact:

Regional Field: United States
Topical Field: History of the Book and Reading
Concentrated Field: Medicine and Mental Illness: Institutions, Authorities, and Technologies

Advisor: Christopher Clark

B.A. Trinity College, 2009
M.A. University of Connecticut, 2012
Graduate Certificate, Feminist and Women’s Studies, 2012


Dissertation Title: Taking a Literary Pulse: A History of the Use of Reading to Heal the Self and Its Diseases


Current Research Interests

My research focuses on the history of the idea that books can serve as medicine. Specifically, my dissertation examines the history of bibliotherapy, or the use of books as medicine, in the Anglophone world from 1800 to 1970. The study considers conceptualizations of the imagination, mind, and the self in tracking what practitioners of bibliotherapy, as this field came to be known, believed they were healing. It asks what physicians, psychologists, librarians, and patients identified as the sick object in need of treatment, what books made the best medicine, and who decided. In doing so, my scholarship will present both a history of ideas and a history of the emergent medical technologies and professions inspired and shaped by these ideas.

Select Presentations

“The Library as Medicine Cabinet: Inventing Bibliotherapy in the Interwar Period.” Library History Seminar XIII, Simmons College, August 1, 2015.
“Reinterpreting Hartford through Digital History.” Association for the Study of Connecticut History. April 5, 2014.
“Taking a Literary Pulse: Ruth Tews and the Mystery of Bibliotherapy.” Pennsylvania Hospital History of Women’s Health Conference. April 2, 2014

Fellowships and Prizes

Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, University of Connecticut, 2015
Andrew W. Pyper Scholarship, Department of History, University of Connecticut, 2015
Connecticut Celebration 350th Scholarship, 2012
Directors’ Scholarship Recipient, Rare Book School, 2012