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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

7 - Women of Natural Knowledge

from Part II - Personae and Sites of Natural Knowledge
This chapter investigates the shifting institutional foundations of natural knowledge during the revolutions that marked its origins in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the changing fortunes of women within those institutions. It looks at the world of learned elites: universities, princely courts, informal humanist circles, scientific academies, and Parisian salons. These networks of literati are contrasted with the workshops of the skilled craftsmen and craftswomen. Women's exclusion from universities set limits on their participation in astronomy. The chapter also focuses on Europe, investigating the naturalists who undertook long and arduous journeys during the expansive voyages of scientific discovery. The more fluid state of scientific culture in early modern Europe left room for innovation. New institutions and new calls for equality provided openings in intellectual culture that allowed a few women to contribute to the making of natural knowledge.
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The Cambridge History of Science
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