Addressing a key challenge facing feminist scholars today, this volume explores the tensions between shared gender identity and the myriad social differences structuring women's lives.
By examining historical experiences of early modern women, the authors of these essays consider the possibilities for commonalities and the forces dividing women.
They analyse individual and collective identities of early modern women, tracing the web of power relations emerging from women's social interactions and contemporary understandings of femininity.
Essays range from the late medieval period to the eighteenth century, study women in England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Sweden, and locate women in a variety of social environments, from household, neighbourhood and parish, to city, court and nation.
Despite differing local contexts, the volume highlights continuities in women's experiences and the gendering of power relations across the early modern world. Recognizing the critical power of gender to structure identities and experiences, this collection responds to the challenge of the complexity of early modern women's lives.
In paying attention to the contexts in which women identified with other women, or were seen by others to identify, contributors add new depth to our understanding of early modern women's senses of exclusion and belonging.