Introduction: The Early Modern Womb

  • Amy Kenny
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)


The introduction outlines the humoral concept of the womb disseminated in medical tracts, domestic manuals, diaries, and pamphlets, specifically interrogating how it was crucial to the larger socio-political discourse surrounding women’s bodies in early modern England. Women were considered porous, polluting, and susceptible to the environment. At the center of the divergent female anatomy was the womb, which was considered a virtually independent force and necessitated containment because of its influential role in reproduction. The book begins by providing a medical framework for the literature analysis that occupies the remaining chapters. The purpose, structure, and function of the womb are explored in a variety of texts to demonstrate a broad overview of how people theorized female anatomy when Shakespeare wrote his plays.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy Kenny
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaRiversideUSA

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