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Women in Medicine: Introduction and Overview

In this session we will think about the relationship between women and medicine. We look at changing attitudes towards women as patients and healers as well as theoretical understandings of the role played by gender in medicine.

Seminar/essay questions:

• Is gender a useful category of analysis in the history of medicine?
• Health care, like child care, seems perennially to have been a female responsibility. Discuss.
• How did ideas about the frailty of women’s bodies determine their experiences of ill health?

Required reading:

• Johanna Geyer-Kordesch, ‘Women and Medicine’, in W.F. Bynum and R. Porter (eds.), Companion Encylopedia of the History of Medicine (London: Routledge, 1993), 884-910.
• Hilary Marland, ‘Women, Health and Medicine’, in Mark Jackson (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine (Oxford University Press, 2011), 484-502.

Additional reading:

• Montserrat Cabré, ‘Women or Healers?: Household Practices and the Categories of Health Care in Late Medieval Iberia’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine (2008) 82;1: 18-51.
• Wendy D. Churchill, Female Patients in Early Modern Britain: Gender, Diagnosis, and Treatment (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012).
• Lawrence Conrad and Anne Hardy (eds), Women and Modern Medicine (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2001).
• Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English, Witches, Midwives, & Nurses: A History of Women Healers (New York: Feminist Press, 2010). (Second Edition).
• Monica H. Green, Making Women's Medicine Masculine: The Rise of Male Authority in Pre-Modern Gynaecology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).
• Lynette Hunter and Sarah Hutton (Eds), Women, Science and Medicine 1500-1700: Mothers and Sisters of the Royal Society (Stroud: Sutton, 1997).
• Ludmilla Jordanova, ‘Gender and the Historiography of Science’, British Journal for the History of Science (1993) 26: 469-483.
• Judith Walzer Leavitt, Women and Health in America: Historical Readings (Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999). (Second Edition).

• Francesca Moore, ‘Go and see Nell; She'll put you right’: The Wisewoman and Working-Class Health Care in Early Twentieth-century Lancashire’, Social History of Medicine (2013) 26 (4): 695-714.
• Ornella Moscucci, The Science of Woman: Gynaecology and Gender in England, 1800-1929 (Cambridge: CUP, 1990).
• Edward Shorter, Women's Bodies: A Social History of Women's Encounter with Health, Ill-health and Medicine (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1991).
• Lisa W. Smith, ‘Reassessing the Role of the Family: Women's Medical Care in Eighteenth-century England’, Social History of Medicine (2003) 16 (3): 327-342.
• Rebecca J. Tannenbaum, The Healer's Calling: Women and Medicine in Early New England (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press 2009).
• Sylvana Tomaselli, ‘Reflections on the History of the Science of Woman’, History of Science (1991) 29: 185-205.
• Leigh Whaley, Women and the Practice of Medical Care in Early Modern Europe, 1400-1800 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).