In a time when high-profile outbreaks such as zika and ebola frequently make news headlines, the proposed research project, ‘Women’s Plague Writing in Early Modern England’, provides an opportunity to interrogate how we interpret medical writing, who talks about medical problems and how gender becomes entangled in outbreaks by looking to the past. ‘Women’s Plague Writing in Early Modern England’ will undertake a survey and analysis of women’s plague writing in England from 1550 to 1700. A three-year Global Fellowship project with a two-year outgoing phase at the University of Toronto (UofT) and incoming phase at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), the research action takes an interdisciplinary approach to women’s plague writing across the early modern period in England. The research programme explores the medical humanities through the lens of literature in its historical context. This project will change the canon of plague writing, which has hitherto focused on male-authored texts. Moving from the single outbreak focus seen in my first monograph, The Literary Culture of Plague in Early Modern England (forthcoming with Palgrave Macmillan), the outcome of the project makes the significant leap to studying a period of plague writing, a bigger-scale picture, with a broad chronology that captures major plague outbreaks in 1592, 1603, 1625, 1630, 1636 and 1665. The project encapsulates a full-period picture of women’s interactions with plague and medicine and the corresponding gendering of plague writing. It will examine how women discuss the disease and how this differs from male-authored texts. It will ask how the medium chosen for publishing a text, print or manuscript, impacted how women discussed the disease. It will investigate how women’s understanding of plague was gendered and, more broadly, how the textual construction of pestilence was gendered in early modern England.
Fields of science
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