12 Pages

Introduction Gender and Scientific Discourse in Early Modern Culture

ByKathleen P. Long

This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in this book. The book explores the relationship of women and questions of gender to the scientific domain in early modern Europe, particularly but not exclusively continental Europe. It presents new views of this relationship by scrutinizing two very different fields: alchemy, where the existence of women practitioners has gone largely unacknowledged until quite recently, and obstetrics, a field in which women lost considerable ground as practitioners over the course of the seventeenth century. Essays on cultural manifestations of scientific notions, particularly in the form of literary reworkings, demonstrate the broader reception of scientific innovations and traditions. Early modern Spanish chivalric romance combines the imagined monsters of the New World with more typically medieval European monsters. The theory of gender presented by Pico, Paracelsus, and Dee is not hierarchical or Aristotelian, but one that recognizes both difference and resemblance between the sexes.