Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2019 Eleanor Naiman. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


History Department

First Advisor

Bruce Dorsey

Second Advisor

Diego Armus


This paper analyzes the testimonials by women living with HIV printed in the newsletter WORLD (Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Diseases) in the 1990s. It traces the evolution of WORLD’s register of permissible emotions as the organization delineated which feelings were desirable and thus printable within the context of its newsletter. The women of WORLD preserved their organization’s emotional codes despite the changing meaning of the epidemic and even as they increasingly engaged with activist communities with very different emotional norms. In doing so, WORLD’s members maintained their ability to both advocate for their right to access and information while continuing to narrate their diagnoses and lives with HIV as stories of hope, optimism, and triumph.


Co-recipient of the Paul H. Beik Prize in History, awarded in 2020.