Making Womens Medicine Masculine: The Rise of Male Authority in Pre-Modern Gynaecology

Hardcover | March 20, 2008

byMonica H. Green

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Making Women's Medicine Masculine challenges the common belief that prior to the eighteenth century men were never involved in any aspect of women's healthcare in Europe. Using sources ranging from the writings of the famous twelfth-century female practitioner, Trota of Salerno, all the way tothe great tomes of Renaissance male physicians, and covering both medicine and surgery, this study demonstrates that men slowly established more and more authority in diagnosing and prescribing treatments for women's gynaecological conditions (especially infertility) and even certain obstetricalconditions. Even if their 'hands-on' knowledge of women's bodies was limited by contemporary mores, men were able to establish their increasing authority in this and all branches of medicine due to their greater access to literacy and the knowledge contained in books, whether in Latin or the vernacular. AsMonica Green shows, while works written in French, Dutch, English, and Italian were sometimes addressed to women, nevertheless even these were often re-appropriated by men, both by practitioners who treated women and by laymen interested to learn about the 'secrets' of generation. While early in the period women were considered to have authoritative knowledge on women's conditions (hence the widespread influence of the alleged authoress 'Trotula'), by the end of the period to be a woman was no longer an automatic qualification for either understanding or treating theconditions that most commonly afflicted the female sex - with implications of women's exclusion from production of knowledge on their own bodies extending to the present day.

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Making Women's Medicine Masculine challenges the common belief that prior to the eighteenth century men were never involved in any aspect of women's healthcare in Europe. Using sources ranging from the writings of the famous twelfth-century female practitioner, Trota of Salerno, all the way tothe great tomes of Renaissance male physici...

Monica H. Green is Professor of History at Arizona State University where she holds affiliate appointments in Women's and Gender Studies; Bioethics; and the Program in Social Science and Global Health in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. Women's Healthcare in the Medieval West: Texts and Contexts, a collection of her ma...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:430 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.06 inPublished:March 20, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199211493

ISBN - 13:9780199211494

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction: literacy, medicine, and gender1. The gentle hand of a woman? Trota and women's medicine at Salerno2. Men's practice of women's medicine in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries3. Bruno's paradox: women and literate medicine4. In a language women understand: the gender of the vernacular5. Slander and the secrets of women6. The masculine birth of gynaecologyThe medieval legacy: medicine of, for, and by womenAppendix I: medieval and Renaissance owners of Trotula manuscriptsPrinted gynaecological and obstetrical texts, 1474-1600ReferencesIndex of manuscripts citedGeneral Index

Editorial Reviews

`An outstanding book in all ways... a work of superb scholarship'Professor Helen King, University of Reading