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Philomena Gorey

This chapter explores the limited evidence that survives from early modern Ireland relating to the licensing and regulation of midwifery, both by the Catholic and Protestant churches and by the Dublin College of Physicians. It situates episcopal regulation in the context of the churches’ wider administrative roles in society. It also relates Catholic and Protestant practice to concerns around the proper performance of baptism. The process whereby the College of Physicians very gradually became active in regulating midwifery is also reconstructed.

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Homer B. Pettey

While the primary subject of Paul Verhoven’s Elle (2016) remains an examination of rape, the film places rape within a dark satire of contemporary French bourgeois life: the technological usurpation of emotions and sexuality; the uncertain future of a new generation of slacker male children; the shallowness of casual marital infidelity; and even the comically violent frustrations over the lack of parking in Paris. Elle especially addresses rape in contrast to a current culture of unquestioned feminist assumptions. Indeed, Elle provokes feminist paradigms that have foregrounded much of the discussion of gender and sexuality in both literary and film studies. Elle takes the subject of rape and radically alters conventional, popular, and academic assumptions about woman’s agency, undercutting as it critiques the several waves of feminism. In doing so, Elle eschews and at times mocks feminist grand narratives of oppressive patriarchy and pervasive misogyny with their repeated subtext of women trapped within a dominant rape culture. Instead, Elle formulates a satiric counter-narrative that affirms female agency and examines the ambiguities of feminine desire. Elle problematizes feminist polemics against the voyeurism and scopophilia of cinematic portrayals of rape and their reducing of woman to a victim status under the domination of the male gaze. In doing so, Elle does not dismiss feminism outrightly, but rather adapts a new text that does not need to be faithful to that original theoretical text. Based upon Philippe Djian’s novel ‘Oh …’, Elle also calls into question the process of adaptation, which for Elle involves movement not only between literary and cinematic forms, but also among transmedial forms of computers, video games, and messaging systems. The subject of these intertextual forms of adaptation always remains rape and its consequences. These provocations reveal how Elle admirably, if quite disturbingly, plays with conventions of contemporary femininity by taking the emotionally and politically fraught subject of violent sexual assault and rendering it graphically and satirically. Elle, then, serves an outré, contemporary model for the process of adaptation.

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Benjamin Hazard

This chapter is concerned with the relationship between large-scale warfare and the establishment of military hospitals in Flanders and Ireland in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. It reflects on the work of Irish medics in the employment of Spain before focusing particular attention on the military hospital at Mechelen. The significance of the field hospital set up by the Spanish at Castlehaven on the southern coast of Ireland is also assessed.

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Edited by: John Cunningham

This collection offers important new insights across a broad range of topics relating to medicine in Early Modern Ireland. Of particular note is the substantial attention devoted to the years before 1750, a period that has been relatively neglected in studies of Irish medicine. The book brings together an exciting selection of established scholars, such as Peter Elmer and Clodagh Tait, as well as a number of early career historians. Their work effectively situates Irish medicine in relation to long-term social and cultural change on the island, as well as to appropriate international contexts, encompassing Britain, Europe and the Atlantic World. The chapters also engage in various ways with important aspects of the historiography of medicine in the twenty-first century. Among the key subjects addressed by the contributors are Gaelic medicine, warfare, the impact of new medical ideas, migration, patterns of disease, midwifery and childbirth, book collecting, natural history, and urban medicine. A common thread running through the chapters is the focus on medical practitioners. The book accordingly enables significant new understanding of the character of medical practise in Early Modern Ireland. This collection will be of interest to academics and students of the history of Early Modern medicine. It also contains much that will be essential reading for historians of Ireland.

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Mark S. Dawson

Humoral balances were prone to change, especially as people began to travel further and further away from their birthplaces. This alteration was morbid and, hopefully, shorter lived than migrants themselves, provided that the new environment was (made) agreeable to their innate complexions. Recuperating and maintaining those natal temperaments meant paying attention to the non-naturals in their new homes: air and climate; exercise or rest; food and drink; evacuation or repletion; sleep and wakefulness; the passions. Colonists were anxious about degeneracy, that is, a falling-away from those original types or, after multiple generations born outside England, the potential for their lasting modification. However, a fundamental continuity was considered possible for those who practised a humoral pathology. This pathology also shaped English perceptions of America’s first peoples. As both cause and consequence of their nomadic ways, Indians appeared to have chronically unsettled complexions, of which their ‘tawny’ skins were symptomatic. Considered relatively recent arrivals and ostensibly unwilling to tame their environment, native Americans became ‘naturals’ – their immortal souls were deemed persistently subject to their distempered flesh. It was this abjection of soul to body, not an intrinsic bodily inferiority, that allowed settlers to justify the dispossession and subjugation of native peoples.

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Mark S. Dawson

To make their bodies temples for their immortal souls, the faithful had to be intimately familiar with their flesh. Ministers led the way in explaining the origin, cause, and significance of human cum humoral variation. Parishioners learned to recognise distinct humoral types. They were exhorted to know their own, so as to avoid diabolic temptation and maintain the physiological state that was both a means to health and native to them. Mention of temptation involved confronting original sin. Adam and Eve’s humoral complexions were considered cause and effect of their Fall. On the one hand, the Fall explained human variation in the here and now. On the other, some complexions were still thought to be better than others. Humanity’s parents were widely believed to be sanguine tempered, and so too the English. Either the sanguine were so by birth, or their bodies were invigorated temporarily by proper devotion. Salvific diagnosis also looked to an ideal type. Although it has been taken for granted that religious imagery was anathema, English Protestants watched one another not only for something resembling the demeanour but also the sanguine flesh of Jesus Christ.

Open Access (free)

Bridget Byrne and Carla De Tona

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Mark S. Dawson

Early modern folk typecast according to humoral temperaments made manifest by hair colour, facial features, skin-tone, and bodily proportion. Neither the doctrine of monogenesis, nor uncertainty regarding the mechanisms of variation’s inheritance across generations, precluded an embodied inequality. In fact, the very existence of human diversity was testimony of the divine. Yet God’s providence was also believed to bestow immortal, immaterial souls on people’s variously complexioned flesh. When it comes to the perpetration of racism, this belief should have been the saving grace for all early modern English men and women. Unlike the Ancients, who (allegedly) thought that human souls were determined by their bodies’ elemental composition, and that the cosmos was eternal and random, Christian orthodoxy assumed an ordered Creation, and that humans’ rational souls would ultimately bridle the bodily inclinations to which people’s humours otherwise disposed them. However, early modern bodily prejudice became entirely racist among those who denied this dualism and instead favoured a form of organicism; when they assumed that they themselves were wholly the product of an autonomous Nature which was not God’s handmaiden.

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Elizabethanne Boran

The Edward Worth Library is the single most important medical collection surviving from early modern Ireland. This chapter provides an analysis of the make-up of Worth’s library and exploits surviving sales catalogues to reconstruct the networks whereby Worth pursued rare books from his base in Dublin. The particular strengths evident in the library, for example in relation to the works of Isaac Newton and his followers, are carefully considered. The significance of Leiden as a centre of learning and of Dutch publishing as a source for Worth’s books are also explored.

Open Access (free)

Bridget Byrne and Carla De Tona

This chapter turns directly to the question of school choice – to examine how parents experienced the injunction to choose. It finds that, for many, the feeling that they had ‘no choice’ increased stress and anxiety around schooling. Nonetheless, the feeling of having ‘no choice’ often included a prior disregarding of some schools that their children could reasonably be expected to gain admission to. The chapter also explores what parents said about both private provision (including private Islamic schools) and state selective schools in the form of grammar schools. Approaches to school choice, including to private and selective education, also varied by area. The chapter considers the ways in which parents talked about processes of choice and focuses on one particular account of a mother living in Cheadle Hulme which shows the anxiety that trying to get the best outcome for your child sometimes produced. It shows that previous work on school choice, which tends to focus on the concerns of the professional (white) middle classes, may risk underestimating the ways in which worrying about schools and education is shared across class and ethnic differences.