Book Review: Alisha Rankin’s Panaceia’s Daughters
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The history of medicine can very often seem to be a history defined by the contributions of men with giants such as Andreas Vesalius and William Harvey looming over the field. In recent years, however, several publications have begun to address the roles that women played in the early modern medical community. Alisha Rankin’s new book, Panaceia’s Daughters, a discussion of the pharmaceutical practices of sixteenth-century German noblewomen, is a welcome addition to the field. Providing new insight into the early modern medical landscape, Rankin’s work is both meticulously researched and a delightful read.
Rankin’s goal in writing Panaceia’s Daughtersis to show that the various noblewomen who practiced medicine in the Germanic territories were not seen as engaging in a benign form of witchcraft or as merely dabbling in the healing arts; rather, they were part of a large and diverse medical marketplace in which their gender was one of their most laudable characteristics. She begins her...