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Picture of Women, Gender and Disease in Eighteenth-Century England and France

Women, Gender and Disease in Eighteenth-Century England and France

Editor(s): Ann Kathleen Doig, Felicia B. Sturzer

Book Description

Based on encyclopedias, medical journals, historical, and literary sources, this collection of interdisciplinary essays focuses on the intersection of women, gender, and disease in England and France. Diverse critical perspectives highlight contributions women made to the scientific and medical communities of the eighteenth century. In spite of obstacles encountered in spaces dominated by men, women became midwives, and wrote self-help manuals on women’s health, hygiene, and domestic economy. Excluded from universities, they nevertheless contributed significantly to such fields as anatomy, botany, medicine, and public health.

Enlightenment perspectives on the nature of the female body, childbirth, diseases specific to women, “gender,” sex, “masculinity” and “femininity,” adolescence, and sexual differentiation inform close readings of English and French literary texts. Treatises by Montpellier vitalists influenced intellectuals and physicians such as Nicolas Chambon, Pierre Cabanis, Jacques-Louis Moreau de la Sarthe, Jules-Joseph Virey, and Théophile de Bordeu. They impacted the exchange of letters and production of literary works by Julie de Lespinasse, Françoise de Graffigny, Nicolas Chamfort, Mary Astell, Frances Burney, Lawrence Sterne, Eliza Haywood, and Daniel Defoe.

In our post-modern era, these essays raise important questions regarding women as subjects, objects, and readers of the philosophical, medical, and historical discourses that framed the project of enlightenment.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-5551-8
ISBN-10: 1-4438-5551-0
Date of Publication: 01/04/2014
Pages / Size: 265 / A5
Price: £44.99


Kathleen Hardesty Doig is Professor of French in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at Georgia State University. She has published mainly on encyclopedism, including The Encyclopédie méthodique: Expansion and Revision (SVEC 2013). With the late Dorothy M. Medlin, she edited André Morellet’s Mémoires sur le XVIIIe siècle et sur la Révolution. She is on the editorial board of New Perspectives on the Eighteenth Century.

Felicia Berger Sturzer was Professor of French and Head of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga until her retirement in 2013. Her research focuses on women’s literature, the epistolary novel, Enlightenment sociability, and cultural studies. She has published mainly on Marie Jeanne Riccoboni, Julie de Lespinasse, and Pierre Carlet de Marivaux. She serves on the editorial boards of New Perspectives on the Eighteenth Century and Women in French Studies.