In her study of eighteenth-century literature and medical treatises, Mary McAlpin takes up the widespread belief among cultural philosophers of the French Enlightenment that society was gravely endangered by the effects of hyper-civilization. McAlpin's study explores a strong thread in this rhetoric of decline: the belief that premature puberty in young urban girls, supposedly brought on by their exposure to lascivious images, titillating novels, and lewd conversations, was the source of an increasing moral and physical degeneration. In how-to hygiene books intended for parents, the medical community declared that the only cure for this obviously involuntary departure from the "natural" path of sexual development was the increased surveillance of young girls. As these treatises by vitalist and vitalist-inspired physiologists became increasingly common in the 1760s, McAlpin shows, so, too, did the presence of young, vulnerable, and virginal heroines in the era's novels. Analyzing novels by, among others, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Denis Diderot, and Choderlos de Laclos, she offers physiologically based readings of many of the period's most famous heroines within the context of an eighteenth-century discourse on women and heterosexual desire that broke with earlier periods in recasting female and male desire as qualitatively distinct. Her study persuasively argues that the Western view of women's sexuality as a mysterious, nebulous force-Freud's "dark continent"-has its secular origins in the mid-eighteenth century.
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.
Enriched by the methods and insights of social history, the history of mentalites, linguistics, anthropology, literary theory, and art history, intellectual and cultural history are experiencing a renewed vitality. The far-ranging essays in this volume, by an internationally distinguished group of scholars, represent a generous sampling of these new studies."
"In Women and Medicine in the French Enlightenment Lindsay Wilson takes a new approach to the social history of medicine by focusing on the key role that women played as both providers and recipients of health care during the Ancien Regime. Wilson pays special attention to three medical controversies involving maladies des femmes in eighteenth-century France: the "miraculous cures" claimed by the Convulsionaries of St. Medard, the uncertainty over the maximum length of pregnancy (and its implications for the legitimacy of heirs) and the debate over the medical effectiveness of mesmerism." "Wilson's analysis of these debates reveals how social and political concerns affected the medical community's efforts to establish an enlightened science of medicine which would, in turn, legitimize its own authority. But because the issues of legitimacy, hierarchy and authority raised by the medical causes celebres resonated so deeply throughout French society, debate extended far beyond medical circles to an increasingly engaged public. Such debate reflected a significant shift in the center of politics from the institutions of court, academy, and parlement to journals, theaters, and the streets." "Wilson's description of these debates provides insight into the forces that were transforming the family, the church, corporate society, and the state on the eve of the Revolution. She argues for a re-assessment of a period that has been all too easily categorized as an age of triumph - either for enlightenment or for repression. Her work also offers concrete examples of the ways in which sexual symbolism can he employed to maintain social order or promote change. Based on medical treatises, medical topographies, official reports, judicial documents, physicians' correspondence, and memoirs of eighteenth-century women, Women and Medicine in the French Enlightenment is a thoroughly interdisciplinary work that will appeal to anyone with an interest in the social history of medicine, women's studies, Enlightenment thought, and French social history."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
In this extraordinarily rich book, Madelyn Gutwirth examines over one hundred prints and paintings, dozens of texts, and the work of a great many cultural critics in order to consider how gender politics were played out during a highly volatile era. Finding evidence of a crisis in gender relations during the eighteenth century, she traces its evolution in the politics of rococo art, demographic trends, plans for the control of prostitution, maternal nursing and wet-nursing practices, folklore, the salon, and in the theater of Diderot and the polemics of Rousseau. Gutwirth shows how a hostile gender ideology consigned women to a solely mothering role before the political revolution began, and how women who struggled to participate in the nascent First French Republic found themselves hobbled by the representational practices of the revolutionaries, especially their use of allegory. The artificiality and anachronism of the Revolution's representation of women were ratified by the Napoleonic Code. Once depicted as erotic goddesses by the rococo, then as goddesses of liberty (Marianne), the dominant figuration of women around 1800 would become the dying waif. As modern republics began their struggle toward legitimacy, women's posture within them had been reduced, by representation, to feeble marginality. Gutwirth combines perspectives from literature, history, sociology, demography, psychology, and art history and criticism in her delineation of this crisis.
Features 13 essays re-examining a selection of romantic-era writers, texts, and genres to explore the relation between romanticism as a literary field and the emergence of the second British empire during the formative period of 1780-1834.
CSA Sociological Abstracts abstracts and indexes the international literature in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. The database provides abstracts of journal articles and citations to book reviews drawn from over 1,800+ serials publications, and also provides abstracts of books, book chapters, dissertations, and conference papers.
The West: Encounters and Transformations takes a new approach to telling the story of Western Civilization. Rather than looking at Western Civilization only as the history of Europe from ancient times to the present, this groundbreaking book examines the changing nature of the Westhow the definition of the West has evolved and transformed throughout history. It explores the ways Western civilization has changed as a result of cultural encounters with different beliefs, ideas, technologies, and peoples, both outside the West and within it. Presenting a balanced treatment of political, social, religious, and cultural history, this new text emphasizes the ever-shifting boundaries of the geographic and cultural realm of the West, with special attention given to Eastern Europe and the Muslim world, Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

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