Making Women's Medicine Masculine: The Rise of Male Authority in Pre-Modern Gynaecology

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OUP Oxford, Mar 20, 2008 - History - 432 pages
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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 to the 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 obstetrical conditions. 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. As Monica 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 the conditions 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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List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Literacy Medicine and Gender
1The Gentle Hand of a Woman? Trota and Womens Medicine at Salerno
2Mens Practice of Womens Medicine in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries
Women and Literate Medicine
the Gender of the Vernacular
6The Masculine Birth of Gynaecology
The Medieval LegacyMedicine of for and by Women
APPENDIX 1Medieval and Renaissance Owners of Trotula Manuscripts
APPENDIX 2Printed Gynaecological and Obstetrical Texts 14741600
General Index
Index of Manuscripts Cited

5Slander and the Secrets of Women

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About the author (2008)

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 major essays, was co-winner of the 2004 John Nicholas Brown Prize for the best first book in medieval studies from the Medieval Academy of America. Her other publications include The 'Trotula': A Medieval Compendium of Women's Medicine, of which she was both editor and translator.

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