Reading and talking about ‘The Woman’s Book’ in Renaissance England

Medical Humanities Sheffield is proud to launch a series of open interdisciplinary lectures, for students, staff and the public.

WEDNESDAY 26 February – 6 p.m. Firth Hall

Professor Jennifer Richards
Reading and Talking about The Woman’s Book in Renaissance England

“Most written knowledge about women’s bodies” in late medieval Europe, argues Monica H. Green, “is to be found in texts composed by male physicians and surgeons, for male physicians and surgeons (or if not for them, then for lay male patrons).” This paper sets out to test this claim, exploring the reception of one popular vernacular book, Thomas Raynalde’s The Birth of Mankind; otherwise named The Womans Booke (1545-1652). There is evidence of male readers annotating their copies of this book. One annotated copy (1565) belonged to the court physician William Ward, and the marginal notes he left behind are revealing: ‘This book in any case is not to be lent [to] anye body’. However, there is also evidence that this book was in fact lent quite widely, including to and by women. This paper will explore this evidence, and try to reconstruct this book’s reading and the discussion of it, not all of which was complimentary…. It will consider what this means for the early history of women’s healthcare and female literacy.

Jennifer Richards is Professor of Early Modern Literature and Culture in the School of English Literature at Newcastle University. She has published books on rhetoric and conversation with Cambridge University Press (2003) and Routledge (2007), and many essays including on the reading of vernacular medical books in the early modern period with Journal of the History of Ideas (2012) and Bulletin of the History of Medicine (forthcoming, 2014). She is currently writing a book on shared reading in early modern England with a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship, and, with Professor Richard Wistreich, Royal Northern College of Music, she is leading the AHRC Network ‘Voices and Books, 1500-1800’. She is an Associate Editor of the Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities.

Medical Humanities Sheffield

The interface between medicine and science on the one hand, and the arts and social sciences on the other hand, is one of the most exciting and important in modern academic life, offering unrivalled potential for multi-disciplinary work, policymaking, and public life. Medical Humanities Sheffield is sponsoring a series of open lectures in this exciting field.

http://mhs.group.shef.ac.uk/

No need to book ahead. Open to the Public.

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