Sickness, Gender, and Belief in Early Modern England
Yale University Press
In the first in-depth study of how gender determined perceptions and experiences of illness in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England, Olivia Weisser invites readers into the lives and imaginations of ordinary men and women. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including personal diaries, medical texts, and devotional literature, the author enters the sickrooms of a diverse sampling of early modern Britons. The resulting stories of sickness reveal how men and women of the era viewed and managed their health both similarly and differently, as well as the ways prevailing religious practices, medical knowledge, writing conventions, and everyday life created and supported those varying perceptions.
A unique cultural history of illness, Weisser’s groundbreaking study bridges the fields of patient history and gender history. Based on the detailed examination of over fifty firsthand accounts, this fascinating volume offers unprecedented insight into what it was like to live, suffer, and inhabit a body more than three centuries ago.
Olivia Weisser is assistant professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She lives in Cambridge, MA.