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Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe

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This is a major new edition of a stimulating and authoritative book. Merry Wiesner has updated and expanded her prize-winning study; she has added new sections on topics such as sexuality, masculinity, the impact of colonialism, and women's role as consumers. Other themes investigated include the female life cycle, literacy, women's economic role, artistic creation, female This is a major new edition of a stimulating and authoritative book. Merry Wiesner has updated and expanded her prize-winning study; she has added new sections on topics such as sexuality, masculinity, the impact of colonialism, and women's role as consumers. Other themes investigated include the female life cycle, literacy, women's economic role, artistic creation, female piety--and witchcraft--and the relationship between gender and power. Accessible, engrossing, and lively, this book will be of central importance for those interested in gender history, early modern Europe, and comparative history.


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This is a major new edition of a stimulating and authoritative book. Merry Wiesner has updated and expanded her prize-winning study; she has added new sections on topics such as sexuality, masculinity, the impact of colonialism, and women's role as consumers. Other themes investigated include the female life cycle, literacy, women's economic role, artistic creation, female This is a major new edition of a stimulating and authoritative book. Merry Wiesner has updated and expanded her prize-winning study; she has added new sections on topics such as sexuality, masculinity, the impact of colonialism, and women's role as consumers. Other themes investigated include the female life cycle, literacy, women's economic role, artistic creation, female piety--and witchcraft--and the relationship between gender and power. Accessible, engrossing, and lively, this book will be of central importance for those interested in gender history, early modern Europe, and comparative history.

30 review for Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ezra

    This was a really intriguing read. Wiesner analyzes the details of various aspects of female life in Early Modern Europe, comparing and contrasting the lives led by Catholic women versus Protestant, lower class versus higher, English versus French or Spanish... the list goes on. She also looks at the remnants of medieval culture and belief and how these affected women living in the Early Modern world. Very detailed, and yet written in an easily-comprehensible writing style.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Macías García

    Reseña cutre porque estoy de exámenes: Lo cogí para un trabajo sobre la mujer en la Edad Moderna y he aprendido tela de mucho. Habría sacado todo de aquí si hubiera podido, en serio. Pero claro, tener solo una referencia en un trabajo de la uni pues no queda bien. Aun así, este libro es como la BIBLIA. En fin, que lo he sacado de la biblio, pero me lo voy a comprar porque quiero tenerlo en casa para consultarlo cuando me dé la gana y eso.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Zarina

    I have never read such a dense and enlightening textbook cover to cover. Wiesner-Hanks did a great job of making her academic survey easy to read, given the content could be kind of dry. I don’t know enough about the early modern period to argue whether it was exhaustive, but the book covered basically every facet of the public and private sphere in relation to women: informal and recognized power, class, religion, the creation of culture, prostitution, the legal system, proto-industrialization, I have never read such a dense and enlightening textbook cover to cover. Wiesner-Hanks did a great job of making her academic survey easy to read, given the content could be kind of dry. I don’t know enough about the early modern period to argue whether it was exhaustive, but the book covered basically every facet of the public and private sphere in relation to women: informal and recognized power, class, religion, the creation of culture, prostitution, the legal system, proto-industrialization, etc. I was surprised by a lot of what I read, and I think this is because I never thought the treatment of half of a population could ever be “that bad”. But as it turns out, men were like, somehow even more petty in the early modern period, which is illustrated by this weird passage in the "Gender and Power” chapter (p. 292): [Scientists] regarded nature as the best source of examples for appropriate political structures, which they termed “natural”. When the invention of the microscope made it clear the king bee was a queen, both royal propagandists and scientists tried to downplay her sex as long as possible, embarrassed that nature would provide such a demonstration of “unnatural” female power. ie. the same people who argued that science is a rational study devoid of politics and religion were also upset about discovering that God gave insects a main bitch and they do just fine. And personally, as a Woman of Reason, I have never been fully convinced that “men" are people, and no one has ever shown me conclusive evidence of the aforementioned “fact”. At worst they are inherent wrongdoers, their destructive nature being wholly similar to the weak-hearted ineptitude of Adam, who could not follow the one rule he was given by his Creator due to simple words spoken by a Woman who did not force his hand to the forbidden fruit. At best they are mere assets in procreation, and serve only as an instrument used by Women to perpetuate human life and encourage political continuity. There are several rebuttals to this thesis, primarily concerning male contributions to the sciences and the development of the public sphere. Our male adversaries make these fragile claims perhaps to indicate to all rational citizens that there exists a lesser sex, for as Women and, by extension, the sole logical beings to walk the Earth, it is easy to argue that God obviously endowed “men” with some incidental talents for the purpose of keeping idle hands too busy to do Satan’s work. It is a happy accident that at times they excelled at their respective crafts. If you are upset you can just switch around the genders in the above paragraph and this is basically the viewpoint of every man (and a lot of women) in the early modern period. Given the economic, legal, and political power men had at the time, it was also interesting to read that “historians noted that men often seemed uncertain about what was expected of them…masculinity was in “crisis” because of various types of social, political, and economic changes. The early modern period was one of these times of crisis, in which men were “anxious” about their masculinity…” Four hundred years later and the idea of "masculinity in crisis" sounds awfully familiar… Anyways, this was a great book, I learned a lot, and I’m kind of sad I had to seek out this information for myself.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Zachary McSwain

    Merry Wiesner-Hanks provides an in-depth and gripping examination of women in Europe's early modern period. The book is subdivided into three major sections: body, mind, and spirit. Each section details specific aspects of women's lives in the era, and the choice to organize the book in such a manner is clearly beneficial. Wiesner-Hanks is not difficult to read or parse; presenting her research in a clear manner. This book will give readers a good survey of gender studies in the given period and Merry Wiesner-Hanks provides an in-depth and gripping examination of women in Europe's early modern period. The book is subdivided into three major sections: body, mind, and spirit. Each section details specific aspects of women's lives in the era, and the choice to organize the book in such a manner is clearly beneficial. Wiesner-Hanks is not difficult to read or parse; presenting her research in a clear manner. This book will give readers a good survey of gender studies in the given period and should be considered alongside a more general survey.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Helene Harrison

    Review - This book was a godsend for my University modules on women and gender - Wiesner-Hanks writes really well, and introduces a lot of primary source material which is analysed and discussed. The book includes sections on religion, witchcraft, literacy, culture and power. It is an excellent introduction to women and gender in the early modern period, and points to some interesting resources. General Subject/s? - History / Gender / Women Recommend? – Yes Rating - 17/20

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laura Derbyshire

    Originally purchased to read alongside a university module I was doing, it ended up being a constant source of inspiration and fact-finding and helped with many an essay.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Eleonora

    Ottimo manuale per scrivere la mia tesi di laurea! Credo però ci siano degli errori nelle parti riguardanti la omosessualità femminile.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Baylee

    Leggendo questo libro, tutto ciò a cui riuscivo a pensare era: meno male che sono nata nell'Italia di fine Novecento. Se fossi nata nei secoli presi in considerazione del libro (che analizza la storia dal punto di vista della condizione della donna tra il 1500 e il 1750), sarei stata considerata un essere inferiore che doveva essere naturalmente sottomessa ad un uomo. Grazie al credito di cui godeva quel simpaticone di Aristotele, si era giunti a una teorizzazione dell'inferiorità psicofisica del Leggendo questo libro, tutto ciò a cui riuscivo a pensare era: meno male che sono nata nell'Italia di fine Novecento. Se fossi nata nei secoli presi in considerazione del libro (che analizza la storia dal punto di vista della condizione della donna tra il 1500 e il 1750), sarei stata considerata un essere inferiore che doveva essere naturalmente sottomessa ad un uomo. Grazie al credito di cui godeva quel simpaticone di Aristotele, si era giunti a una teorizzazione dell'inferiorità psicofisica della donna. Se poi ci aggiungiamo anche il frutto proibito ed Eva... otteniamo una mela più avvelenata di quella che la Strega diede a Biancaneve. Ma pensate se qualcuno di questi signori tornasse a farsi un giretto dalle nostre parti... Certo, non è che essere donna, anche oggi, sia rose e fiori – e non sto qui a elencarne i motivi più o meno gravi. Ma sapere da dove siamo partiti può aiutarci a cambiare idee e comportamenti che ancora oggi circolano tra di noi (anche tra alcune donne, ahimè!).

  9. 5 out of 5

    G.G.

    A seriously good undergraduate textbook: accessibly written and with a useful number of quotations from primary sources. The suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter are also mines of information. I decided to read this because I'll be teaching a course in early modern Japanese women's writing this spring and I wanted to be able to bring a comparative dimension to the classroom: the book was perfect for that purpose, too! One caveat: the companion website (www.cambridge.org/wome A seriously good undergraduate textbook: accessibly written and with a useful number of quotations from primary sources. The suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter are also mines of information. I decided to read this because I'll be teaching a course in early modern Japanese women's writing this spring and I wanted to be able to bring a comparative dimension to the classroom: the book was perfect for that purpose, too! One caveat: the companion website (www.cambridge.org/womenandgender) doesn't work in Japan. Frustratingly, one is taken instead to the CUP English-teaching website.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    One of the most spectacular books I've ever been assigned for school. Great overview of subjects pertaining to women and gender in . . . early modern Europe! Really though, well worth the read and includes such an extensive bibliography that if I read only books referenced in this one, I'd probably be busy for the rest of my life. I'm going to buy my own copy. Just superb. One of the most spectacular books I've ever been assigned for school. Great overview of subjects pertaining to women and gender in . . . early modern Europe! Really though, well worth the read and includes such an extensive bibliography that if I read only books referenced in this one, I'd probably be busy for the rest of my life. I'm going to buy my own copy. Just superb.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marina

    E' stata una vera angoscia finire il capitolo sulla Religione - troppe digressioni e particolari inutili per quella che dovrebbe essere una panoramica. A parte questo, il libro e' assolutamente valido e interessantissimo. A tratti pure divertente. E' stata una vera angoscia finire il capitolo sulla Religione - troppe digressioni e particolari inutili per quella che dovrebbe essere una panoramica. A parte questo, il libro e' assolutamente valido e interessantissimo. A tratti pure divertente.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mary Rose

    Amazing book, I used it a lot during my Patriarchy, Sex, and Gender in Early Modern Europe course. Wiesner-Hanks is nothing short of astounding with the way she relates the nuances of gender and the feminine experience in this historical period, highly recommended.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Julaine

    Horrible, false and scary book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    A survey of women and gender from about 1500-1800 in European society, including "New World" colonies. Superb breadth, depth, and clarity; a model of its genre. A survey of women and gender from about 1500-1800 in European society, including "New World" colonies. Superb breadth, depth, and clarity; a model of its genre.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

  16. 5 out of 5

    carson celeste

  17. 5 out of 5

    Larissa

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alessandra

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kendall

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cathie

  21. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Grebel

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kartick Poria

  23. 5 out of 5

    sukhman bains

  24. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

  25. 4 out of 5

    Prisca Dorcas Rodríguez

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rui

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kate

  28. 5 out of 5

    Auni

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

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