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Grant number like: FA-55136-10

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Meredith Kennedy Ray
University of Delaware (Newark, DE 19716-0099)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2010 – 8/31/2011

Prescriptions for Women: Alchemy, Medicine, and the Renaissance Debate Over Women

This project examines the role of women as writers, readers, and practitioners in the arenas of early modern medicine and alchemy. It broadens our understanding of women in Renaissance Europe and, especially, in Italy, by examining their involvement in scientific culture as well as their literary presence as the subjects, audiences, and producers of the medical and alchemical texts known as "books of secrets." As this investigation reveals, a deep interest in Renaissance Italy in works devoted to medical and alchemical remedies and secrets was deeply intertwined with notions about sex and gender and with the cultural polemics of the early modern debate over women, which sought to describe and define women's nature and social role. My project thus illuminates the crucial links between discourses of sex and gender and those of medicine and alchemy--between protofeminism and protoscience.