Offering a broad and eclectic approach to the experience and activities of early modern women, Challenging Orthodoxies presents new research from a group of leading voices in their respective fields. Each essay confronts some received wisdom, ’truth’ or orthodoxy in social and cultural, scientific and intellectual, and political and legal traditions, to demonstrate how women from a range of social classes could challenge the conventional thinking of their time as well as the ways in which they have been traditionally portrayed by scholars. Subjects include women's relationship to guns and gunpowder, the law and legal discourse, religion, public finances, and the new science in early modern Europe, as well as women and indentured servitude in the New World. A testament to the pioneering work of Hilda L. Smith, this collection makes a valuable contribution to scholarship in women’s studies, political science, history, religion and literature.

chapter |10 pages


ByMelinda S. Zook

part I|63 pages

Challenging Cultural and Social Traditions

chapter 1|20 pages

The Boundaries of Womanhood in the Early Modern Imaginary

ByMerry E. Wiesner-Hanks

chapter 2|20 pages

Women and Guns in Early Modern London

ByLois G. Schwoerer

chapter 3|22 pages

Fiscal Citizens

Female Investors in Public Finance before the South Sea Bubble
ByBarbara J. Todd

part II|88 pages

Challenging Scientific and Intellectual Traditions

chapter 4|24 pages

The Microscopist as Voyeur

Margaret Cavendish's Critique of Experimental Philosophy
ByLisa T. Sarasohn

chapter 5|22 pages

Women, Anglican Orthodoxy, and the Church in Ages of Danger

ByMelinda S. Zook

chapter 6|24 pages

Émilie Du Châtelet and the Enlightenment's Querelles des femmes

ByJudith P. Zinsser

part III|65 pages

Challenging Political and Legal Traditions

chapter 8|28 pages

Daughters of Coke

Women's Legal Discourse in England, 1642–1689
ByMihoko Suzuki

chapter 9|18 pages

“Willing to go if they had their clothes”

Early Modern Women and Indentured Servitude
ByAnna Suranyi

chapter 10|18 pages

Epilogue—Women Theorize the Power of the “Powerless”

The Case of Virginia Woolf
ByBerenice A. Carroll