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26 June 2024

New Voices Summer 2024: Food, Plants, Remedies and Healing Practices: Women’s Ideas in the History of Medicine

| 4:30 PM - 6:30 PM | Jil Muller

Madeleine Sheahan (Yale University): Seasonality and Slaughter: Sourcing Animal-Ingredients in Seventeenth-Century Household Medicine

Springtime was an industrious season of the 17th century household. In a period of domestic production and proactivity, household medical practitioners worked to prevent illness and preserve health. The perceived environmental subjectivity of the body encouraged practitioners to prepare stocks of medicine for a host of ailments believed to arise from changing climatic, ecological, and astrological conditions, as well as shifts in human activity, labour, and diet. At the same time as the changing environment threated the health of the body, springtime opened new possibilities to sources natural ingredients for the making of remedies. Of note was the provisioning of pregnant and juvenile animals, made readily available by the changing season and desired for their perceived medical efficacy. Turning to these seasonal aspects of domestic medical care, this talk provides an analysis of animal sourcing and processing techniques recommended in a series of seventeenth-century English manuscripts recipes authored by women. In highlighting the interconnected issues of seasonality, medical provisioning, and animal utility, it illuminates a domestic epistemology of animal use and value, as well as the local, environmental specificity of household medicine in the seventeenth century.


About the Speaker:

Madeleine is a PhD student in the History of Science and Medicine and Santorio Global Fellow at the University of Parma. Her research examines the social history of female healthcare and the variability of local medical marketplaces in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Italy. She is particularly interested in the relationship between midwifery and pharmacology, with a focus on the therapeutic activities of lay women who operated on the periphery of conventional academic, monastic, and guild settings.

26 June 2024

4:30 PM - 6:30 PM



Jil Muller


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