Early Modern Medicine: Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health

Obstetrics: midwife assisting in a birth, Original woodcut image from E. Roeslin, Rosengarten, 1513,Wellcome Collection

│By Georgia Winrow, Gale Ambassador at Lancaster University│

Whilst we may think of how diseases such as the bubonic plague, typhoid or tuberculosis were discussed when studying medicine in early modern Europe, we often do not consider how significantly understandings of sexual and reproductive health developed during this period. The specialism of women’s health in particular was firmly established in these years, with the publication of manuals and treaties to direct physicians and midwives in their practice. Indeed, whilst the early modern period saw practitioners drawing upon the work of ancient authorities, it was also a period of innovation, particularly within science and medicine.

Gale’s Sex and Sexuality, Sixteenth to Twentieth Century collection is truly interdisciplinary and includes materials that would support academic fields as varied as Sociology, Law and Theology. For scholars investigating the History of Medicine, the most significant materials within this collection which can be used to explore the emergence of a comprehensive, gendered understanding of early modern medicine are arguably the medical enquiries, manuals and pamphlets.

Read more

L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque nationale de France – A Student’s Perspective

|By Rob Youngs do Patrocinio, Gale Ambassador at University College London|

Gale’s rich and exciting archive collection L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque national de France, which is part of Gale’s Archives of Sexuality and Gender series, holds an impressive assortment of approximately 2400 printed works, published mostly in French. Enfer quite literally translates into English as “hell”. The name is remarkable and has certainly contributed to the collection’s historical infamy. When it was opened, the collection was classified and unavailable to the wider public due to its obscene and outlandish nature, and the perceived vulgarity of the content – but perhaps unsurprisingly this only roused interest and curiosity in the collection! Students of today will undoubtedly be equally curious to explore this historically “out of bounds” collection.

Read more

Pride and Protest: LGBT+ Disability Activism in the US, 1985-1995

Disabled activists

│By Mo Clarke, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter│

Disabled. A word many find uncomfortable. Indeed, it seems much of society still assumes that to be disabled is to be broken, but while it is true that many people with disabilities experience ableism and insufficient support, resources and facilities, activists have long fought against the presumption that to be disabled is inherently bad. Rather than a curse or insult, their disability is a part of their identity and a source of pride. Gale’s Archives of Sexuality and Gender reveal that disability rights have also been a focus for another minority group in the United States: the LGBT+ community. In the 1980s and 1990s LGBT+ activists made great strides towards improving the lives of disabled people.

Read more

Franco Stevens and the History of Curve Magazine

Covers of Curve Magazine

|By Jen Rainin, Co-Founder of The Curve Foundation| Franco Stevens arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, in the late-1980s, looking to immerse herself in the lesbian community she knew existed there. Certain that the Castro’s A Different Light bookstore would carry a magazine that would connect her to San Francisco’s vibrant lesbian scene, … Read more

Exploring Early Modern Erotica and Social History in L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque nationale de France

L'Enfer Imagery - Part 1 post montage

│By Philip Virta, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources│

Please be aware that this blog post contains content that may be offensive to some readers; the decision to read the post is at your own discretion.

Back when Playboy, “an American men’s lifestyle and entertainment magazine”, was still publishing, the usual comment from anyone observed purchasing an issue from the newsstand was, “I just get it for the articles.” In the case of my latest research foray into L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque national de France, I really was just looking for the pictures.

As so often happens in research, we travel down one path, only to encounter interesting intersections. I started out studying the evolution of beauty and body standards in erotic art through the centuries. Along the way, I became equally as interested in the books themselves. The histories of the lives of some of the authors and artists was intriguing. The motivations and movements behind the books they wrote were fascinating. The themes and agendas written into the texts were engrossing. There are a wealth of topics to explore once you slip beneath the covers of the books and plumb the depths of Enfer.

Read more