By Mary Floyd-Wilson
During this ground-breaking research, Mary Floyd-Wilson argues that the early glossy English believed their affections and behaviour have been inspired via hidden sympathies and antipathies that coursed during the flora and fauna. those forces not just produced emotional relationships yet they have been additionally levers in which usual humans intended they can control nature and convey new wisdom. certainly, it was once the invisibility of nature's secrets-or occult qualities-that resulted in a privileging of experimentation, supporting to displace a reliance on historical theories. Floyd-Wilson demonstrates how Renaissance drama participates in usual philosophy's construction of epistemological obstacles through staging tales that check the knowledge-making authority of girls healers and experimenters. concentrating on 12th evening, Arden of Faversham, A caution for reasonable ladies, All's good That Ends good, The Changeling, and The Duchess of Malfi, Floyd-Wilson means that as experiential facts received medical floor, women's presumed intimacy with nature's secrets and techniques was once both decreased or demonized.
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Extra info for Occult Knowledge, Science, and Gender on the Shakespearean Stage
But on the second “cut of the knife she cried out and stirred her limbes, shewing manifest signes of life” (11r). The implicit irony of the story is that Vesalius, in aiming to make visible the peculiar secrets of the female body, found himself startled out of his profession by the occult qualities of the womb. Jorden closes his pamphlet with the assertion that he has omitted those cures that belong to him as a physician, thus making secret his expertise and designating the information in the pamphlet as common and commonplace (25v).
Throughout All’s Well That EndsWell, the secret animating virtues of a recipe’s ingredients, or of a talisman, are conﬂated with the potential effects of Helena’s own mysterious qualities – somatic and epistemological. Chapter 2, “Sympathetic contagion in Arden of Faversham and A Warning for Fair Women,” examines the representation of infectious, bold women in these anonymous domestic tragedies. Both plays stage occult phenomena – including cruentation, or the bleeding corpse – as instances of contagious sympathy, an early modern concept of infection that presupposes a latent likeness between the disease and the victim.
Seventeenth-century medical writers’ ensuing interest in uterine disorders suggests that the feminization of nature’s secrets affected the development and course of early modern medicine. Such speculation about women’s preternatural qualities was not limited to treatises on medicine, secrets, witchcraft, or books of magic. We can ﬁnd evidence of these same concepts in household receipt books. In one seventeenth-century manuscript, the householder has transcribed a version of the notorious weapon-salve, the controversial remedy that instructed the caregiver to anoint the weapon with its marvelous balm, rather than the wound itself.