Fertility and Fumes

Garlic Bulbs, Libby Welch. Wellcome Images

Garlic Bulbs, Libby Welch. Wellcome Images

My latest academic article is now available on open access at Historical Research’s website:

Female barrenness, bodily access and aromatic treatments in seventeenth-century England

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.

(DOI: 10.1111/1468-2281.12058)

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