The research for this article was made possible by a postdoctoral research fellowship provided by the Society for Renaissance Studies. The author would also like to thank Alexandra Walsham, Sarah Toulalan and Catherine Rider, along with the anonymous reviewers, whose generous comments and suggestions helped to shape the final version of this article.
Female barrenness, bodily access and aromatic treatments in seventeenth-century England†
Article first published online: 12 MAR 2014
© 2014 The Author. Historical Research published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Institute of Historical Research.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Volume 87, Issue 237, pages 423–443, August 2014
How to Cite
Evans, J. (2014), Female barrenness, bodily access and aromatic treatments in seventeenth-century England. Historical Research, 87: 423–443. doi: 10.1111/1468-2281.12058
[This is a revised copyright line on 21 March 2014.]
- Issue published online: 15 JUL 2014
- Article first published online: 12 MAR 2014
Across the seventeenth century medical self-help manuals noted that aromatic substances were a suitable remedy for female barrenness. It has often been suggested that in the early modern period physicians did not touch their patients but instead relied upon patient narrative to diagnose and treat the sick body. This article problematizes this issue by investigating the multi-sensory approach to treating infertility, a disorder invested with concerns of gendered bodily access. It will be demonstrated that the recommendation of aromatic treatments for infertility allowed male physicians a means to negotiate the complex gender boundaries that restricted their access to women's bodies.