Medical Authority and Englishwomen's Herbal Texts, 1550–1650: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Medical Authority and Englishwomen's Herbal Texts, 1550–1650

1st Edition

By Rebecca Laroche


208 pages

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Paperback: 9781138250529
pub: 2016-09-09
Hardback: 9780754666783
pub: 2009-12-28
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315249353
pub: 2016-12-05
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The first study to analyze print vernacular folio herbals from the standpoint of gender and to present original findings to do with early modern women's ownership of these herbals, Medical Authority and Englishwomen's Herbal Texts also looks at reasons and contexts behind early modern female writers claiming herbal practice. Author Rebecca Laroche first establishes cultural backdrops in the gendering of medical authority that takes place in the herbals and the regular ownership of these herbals by women. She then examines women's engagements with herbal texts in life writings and poetry and asks how these moments represent and engage medical authority. In ultimately demonstrating how female writers variously take on women's herbal medical practices, Laroche reveals the broad range of literary potentials within the historical category of women's medicine.


'Medical Authority and Englishwomen's Herbal Texts offers a fresh and sophisticated perspective on the English herbal tradition through the lens of women's use of those texts and their relationship to medical authority. This is indeed a challenging story to tell, built on male herbals, the traces of women's signatures in books, and their diaries. Rebecca Laroche, however, makes a convincing case in telling a story that has been lost.' Rebecca Bushnell, University of Pennsylvania,USA ’Given the widespread involvement of women across all ranks in preserving and prescribing medicinal plants, Laroche's pioneering examination of their production and use of herbal texts should engage many literary and cultural historians of the book, medicine, science, and gender.’ Renaissance Quarterly 'Rebecca Laroche has made a commendable contribution to establishing foundations for further study in this area.' Medical History 'For historians of reading, the work's appeal lies in its focus on a small, determined sample of texts and readers, enabling Laroche to build up in-depth, detailed histories behind both book production and individual readers and readings. …Laroche's fascinating study thus prompts us to explore new questions in new settings.' Journal of British Studies 'Specialists in early modern women's writing and history, in medical history, and in the history of the book, should all find it useful and thought-provoking.' Parergon ’This is a smart and well-researched book… Laroche includes two appendices, the second of which is an extremely useful listing of women and the herbals they owned. This book offers a great deal to a wide range of scholars - of history, medicine, literature, and women - and it is unquestionably a valuable contribution to several fields.’ Sixteenth Century Journal

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: medical authority and Englishwomen's herbal texts, 1550-1650; 'This manlike worke of herbes': gender and the English herbal; Inscriptions in herbal texts and the location of medical authority; Gentlewomen's herbal readings and the absent-present physicians; Isabella Whitney's herbs: print medical texts and London satire; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Rebecca Laroche is Associate Professor of English and Department Chair at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, USA.

About the Series

Literary and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity

Literary and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity
For more than a decade now, Literary and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity has provided a forum for groundbreaking work on the relations between literary and scientific discourses in Europe, during a period when both fields were in a crucial moment of historical formation. We welcome proposals that address the many overlaps between modes of imaginative writing typical of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries”poetics, rhetoric, prose narrative, dramatic production, utopia”and the vocabularies, conceptual models, and intellectual methods of newly emergent 'scientific' fields such as medicine, astronomy, astrology, alchemy, psychology, mapping, mathematics, or natural history. In order to reflect the nature of intellectual inquiry during the period, the series is interdisciplinary in orientation and publishes monographs, edited collections, and selected critical editions of primary texts relevant to an understanding of the mutual implication of literary and scientific epistemologies.

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