Female Bodies and Female Practitioners

Gynaecology, Women's Bodies, and Expertise in the Ancient to Medieval Mediterranean and Middle East
Edited by Lennart Lehmhaus

[Weibliche Körper und weibliche Praktizierende. Gynäkologie, Frauenkörper und Fachwissen im antiken bis mittelalterlichen Mittelmeerraum und Nahen Osten.]

2023. Approx. 510 pages.
forthcoming in February

Ancient Cultures of Sciences and Knowledge 2

approx. 120,00 €
including VAT
sewn paper
ISBN 978-3-16-162290-8
Published in English.
This interdisciplinary volume examines the conceptualization, representation, and agency of women, with a focus on bodies, gynaecology, reproduction, and female expertise in medicine and healthcare in texts from the Mediterranean and Middle East during antiquity and into the medieval period.
The contributions collected here discuss the emergence, transfer and transformations of theoretical and practical gynaecologic knowledge in ancient medical and other traditions. The authors investigate the cultural practices and socio-religious norms that enabled and constrained the production and application of gynaecologic knowledge and know-how – for example, concepts of the female body, ritual im/purity, or myth. Some studies focus more on the role and function of female patients and medical specialists – female doctors, healers, midwives or wet-nurses – as objects and subjects within ancient medical discourses.
The interdisciplinary nature of the studies provides ample opportunity for a comparative exploration of female bodies and medical expertise on them across the geographically diverse but culturally often closely entangled Ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Graeco-Roman, Persian, Byzantine, early Christian, Jewish-Talmudic, and Syriac cultures. Similarities and differences can be discerned in the various realms – ranging from the adoption of medical terminology or development of loanwords/calques, and the transfer and appropriation of certain gynaecologic theories, metaphors and concepts to more structural questions about the discursive representation of such knowledge and its (con)textual incorporation.
The volume aims to help stimulate a fruitful interdisciplinary and trans-generational exchange about the topic, drawing on a wide range of methodological and theoretical tools, including philology, linguistics, narratology/close reading, literary and discursive analysis, material culture, socio-historical perspectives, gender studies, or cultural and religious history.
Survey of contents
I. Conceived Conceptions and Conceptual Controversies
Lennart Lehmhaus: Re-reading Gynaecology in the Ancient World – a Transcultural and Interdisciplinary Survey – Lennart Lehmhaus: Female bodies, Gynaecology, and Women's Medical Knowledge and Practice in Ancient Cultures – a Select Bibliography

II. To Cultivate a Field – Thinking about Women's Bodies in Different Traditions
Tanja Pommerening: The Female Body in Ancient Egypt: Sources, Terminology, and Concepts – Siam Bhayro: Gynaecology in Syriac Sources: Theory and Practice – Carmen Caballero Navas: Greco-Latin Gynecology in Jewish Robes: The Hebrew Translation of Muscio's Gynaecia

III. Theorizing Sex, Sexuality and the Female Body
Ulrike Steinert: Created to Bleed: Blood, Women's Bodies, and Gender in Ancient Mesopotamian Medicine – Marzia Soardi: Some Aspects of Aristotle's Gynaecological Considerations – Shanah Strauch Schick: Do Women Emit Seed? Theories of Embryogenesis and the Regulation of Female Masturbation in Rabbinic Literature – Tirzah Meacham: Pregnancy of Minor Girls, Superfetation, and Pregnancy during Lactation in Rabbinic Literature

IV. Silenced Voices and Objectified Bodies – Women as Practitioners and Practices Applied to Women's Bodies
Monika Amsler: Goats or Babies?! A Critical Evaluation of the Teachings by Abaye's Mother (b. Šabbat 134a) and the Relationship between Veterinary and Human Medicine in the Talmud – Tal Ilan: Salome's Medicinal Recipes and Jewish Women Doctors in Antiquity – Samuel Kottek: Caesarean Section in the Talmud: A Renewed Examination of a Historical Enigma – Irene Calà: A Short Remark on the Sixteenth Book of Aetius Amidenus's Libri medicinales: The Case of the Clitoridectomy – Julia Kelto Lillis: Late Ancient Christians and the Rise of Medically Perceptible Virginity

Lennart Lehmhaus is Lecturer/Assistant Professor at the University of Tübingen, Institute of Jewish and Religious Studies.


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