Over the past forty years, the study of women and gender has become foundational for understanding the early modern period. Women and Gender in the Early Modern World encompasses both single-author and edited collections that fall within and outside the traditional disciplines of literature, history, music, art history, and the history of science, as well as works engaging sexuality studies, masculinity studies, and other interdisciplinary fields that study the nature of gender and women in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa. This year there are two new additions to the series.
Edited by Julie A. Eckerle and Naomi McAreavey, Women’s Life Writing and Early Modern Ireland (June 2019) provides an original perspective on both new and familiar texts in this first critical collection to focus on seventeenth-century women’s life writing in a specifically Irish context. By shifting the focus away from England—even though many of these writers would have identified themselves as English—and making Ireland and Irishness the focus of their essays, the contributors resituate women’s narratives in a powerful and revealing landscape.
These innovative and nuanced scholarly considerations of the powerful influence of Ireland on these writers’ construction of self, provide fresh, illuminating insights into both their writing and their broader cultural context.
In Pathologies of Love(December, 2019), Judy Kem examines the role of medicine in the debate on women, known as the querelle des femmes, in early modern France. Questions concerning women’s physical makeup and its psychological and moral consequences played an integral role in the querelle.
Literary authors perpetuated medical ideas such as the notion of allegedly fatal lovesickness, and physicians published works that included disquisitions on the moral nature of women. Kem reconstructs how these authors interpreted the traditional courtly understanding of women’s pity or mercy on a dying lover, their understanding of contemporary debates about women’s supposed sexual insatiability and its biological effects on men’s lives and fertility, and how erotomania or erotic melancholy was understood as a fatal illness.