“The Flowers are Good, which I on thee Bestow:” Examining Aspects of Gender in Early Modern English Medical Texts

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Johnston, Katrina
History of Medicine , Gender History , Social History , Early Modern History , English History
Access to medical knowledge was gendered in early modern England. Men were authorized to attend medical school and practice medicine by the Royal College of Physicians, whereas women were forced to rely on more informal methods of learning. This thesis examines both published and unpublished medical texts with the purpose of investigating the way in which gender affected one’s access to the medical marketplace. The first chapter of my cognate paper examines the publishing industry and focuses on the types of sources that were deemed acceptable for female publication, as well as the methods that women utilized to produce information within the confines of the strictures enacted by the Royal College of Physicians. The second and final chapter of the paper analyzes the collaborative nature of unpublished early modern English family recipe books, specifically the gendered responsibilities that are apparent in these records. These two in-depth studies will allow me to compare what we might call the ‘public’ domain of medicine, with ‘domestic’ recipe books, and thus enables me to distinguish between performative and more intimate gender roles.
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