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The Science of Woman

The Science of Woman
Gynaecology and Gender in England, 1800–1929

$44.99 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in the History of Medicine

  • Date Published: August 1993
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521447959

$ 44.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Is women's destiny rooted in their biology? Since the end of the eighteenth century the science of gynecology has legitimized the view that women are "naturally" fitted for activities in the private sphere of the family. This book argues that the definition of femininity as propounded by gynecological science is a cultural product of a wider, more political context. Providing a unique account of gynecology in practice, it shifts the historical focus from the use to the production of ideas about "women's nature." Dr. Moscucci traces the origins of gynecology to the emergence of a predictable "science of man" in the late eighteenth century and charts the ideological, professional and institutional development of the subject up to the foundation of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1929. Case-studies of Victorian gynecological practice at two London hospitals illustrate the changing pattern of institutional gynecology, affording valuable insight into the relationship between gynecologists and patients. The book also stresses the equal importance of class and gender ideology in shaping medical views about women's diseases and their treatment.

    • First book on the social history of gynaecology
    •  A highly successful study on a hitherto unexplored subject, now out in paperback
    • Multidisciplinary interest - history of medicine, sociology, women's studies
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "...a valuable addition to the growing literature examining woman's medicine and its social context." Choice

    "...informative, scholarly, and fascinating." Science Books & Films

    "This is an exemplary piece of medical-cultural history." Mary Poovey, Bulletin of the History of Medicine

    "...the work is scholarly and well written, providing a social history of the evolution of a medical specialty usually neglected by historians. As such, it is a welcome addition." The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine

    "...a highly accomplished book which actually includes two separate treatises--a brief and powerful feminist polemic, followed by a more cautious traditional history." Florence Boos, The Women's Review of Books

    " important addition both to the study of nineteenth-century medicine and the development of ideas about women." Victorian Studies

    " once thoroughly conventional in its methods and unusually provocative in its findings." Lynn K. Nyhart, Signs

    "Issues surrounding the emergence of obstetrics and gynecology as a specialty are dealt with in a factual yet thoroughly readable manner. The volume is carefully annotated, and an extensive bibliography is provided, allowing those with a special interest in one or another aspect of the history of the field to pursue issues of greater depth." Luigi Mastroianni, Jr., Academic Medicine

    "The value of Moscucci's approach is that she has provided a detailed picture of the development of gynaecological practice. She also has drawn a wonderfully rich picture of the belief systems and scientific world systems held by a distinctive, yet hitherto little-known group of medical men." New Scientist

    " intriguing mixture of feminist theory and restrained polemic about the social and cultural determinants of biomedical thought and practice, and a straightforward chronological account of the evolution of gynaecology as a field of medical specialization....a work that not only adds a stimulating perspective to feminist and medical history, but also provides important insights into the broader question of the rise (and specialization) of the professions during the past two centuries." Richard Soloway, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 1993
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521447959
    • length: 292 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.417kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Problem of Femininity:
    1. Woman's sexuality and population concerns
    2. Woman's place in nature
    3. Nature and the environment
    4. A theory of femininity
    5. Physiology and social roles
    Part II. Men-Midwives and Medicine: The Origins of a Profession:
    6. Midwives and accoucheurs
    7. The 'obstetric revolution' and eighteenth-century medical politics
    8. The nineteenth century: obstetrics, gynaecology and general practice
    9. Educated accoucheurs
    Part III. The Rise of the Women's Hospitals:
    10. Hospitals, specialists and nineteenth-century medicine
    11. The first women's hospital
    12. A moral institution
    13. The Chelsea Hospital for Women
    Part IV. Woman and her diseases:
    14. The pathology of femininity
    15. Surgical analysis
    16. Penetrating private parts: the 'speculum question'
    17. Precept and practice
    Part V. The 'Unsexing' of Women:
    18. Early controversies
    19. A question of values
    20. Pathological pregnancies
    21. The triumph of ovariotomy
    22. The Imlach affair
    Part VI. From the British Gynaecological Society to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists:
    23. The 'handcuffed obstetrician'
    24. The Meadows incident
    25. A British gynaecological society
    26. A college of obstetricians and gynaecologists
    27. Restructuring the profession

  • Author

    Ornella Moscucci

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