Domestic Dangers: Women, Words, and Sex in Early Modern London

Paperback | September 1, 1998

byLaura Gowing

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`What else is woman but a foe to friendship ... a domestic danger?' Sexual morality was central to the patriarchal society of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, as demonstrated by this quotation taken from a biblical commentary by St John Chrysostom. In a fascinating and originalbook, Laura Gowing considers what gender difference meant in the practice of daily life, examining the working of gender relations in sex, courtship, marriage, conflict and verbal disputes. Her focus is the richly detailed and hitherto unused records of litigation over sexual insult, contracts ofmarriage and marriage separation in London c.1560-1640. Gowing takes a new approach to these legal testimonies. She reads them as texts with complicated layers of meaning in order to reveal precisely how culture, language, stories and experience connected. Arguing that women's and men's sexualhonour had such different meanings as to make them incommensurable, she reveals how, in every area of sex and marriage , women were perceived as acting differently, and with different results, from men. This is the first analysis of women's special experiences in the metropolis, and presents powerful evidence for women's use of legal agency. From the formal world of law to the daily world of the street, Domestic Dangers reveals the organization of gender relations and the shape of women's livesin early modern London.

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From the Publisher

`What else is woman but a foe to friendship ... a domestic danger?' Sexual morality was central to the patriarchal society of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, as demonstrated by this quotation taken from a biblical commentary by St John Chrysostom. In a fascinating and originalbook, Laura Gowing considers what gender differe...

Laura Gowing is at University of Hertfordshire.

other books by Laura Gowing

Format:PaperbackDimensions:312 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.67 inPublished:September 1, 1998Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198207638

ISBN - 13:9780198207634

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Table of Contents

1. Gender, household, and city2. Women in court3. The language of insult4. Words, reputation, and honour5. The economy of courtship6. Domestic disorders: adultery and violence7. Narratives of litigation8. ConclusionBibliography, Index

Editorial Reviews

`Impressively documented, elegantly written, sophisticated yet clear in its analysis, it is the best work of early modern English social history that I have read for years ... no scholars of early modern England will be able to ignore this powerful and very important book.'Mark S R Jenner, Continuity and Change, 14:2 1999