Challenging Women's Agency and Activism in Early Modernity
Challenging Women's Agency and Activism in Early Modernity
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Introduction (Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks)
Part I Choosing and Creating
1. Bad Habits and Female Agency: Attending to Early Modern Women in the Material History of Intoxication (Angela McShane)
2. Setting up House: Artisan Women's Trousseaux in Seventeenth-century Bologna (Joyce de Vries)
3. Crafting Habits of Resistance (Susan Dinan, Karen Nelson, and Michele I. Osherow)
Part II Confronting Power
4. Confronting Women's Actions in History: Female Crown Fief Holders in Denmark (Grethe Jacobsen)
5. Divisive Speech in Divided Times? Women and the Politics of Slander, Sedition, and Informing during the English Revolution (Caroline Boswell)
6. Why Political Theory is Women's Work: Freedom and Justice in Moderata Fonte's The Worth of Women (1600) (Caroline Castiglione)
7. 'Wrestling the World from Fools': Teaching Historical Empathy and Critical Engagement (Jennifer Selwyn
Part III. Challenging Representations
8. Thinking Beings and Animate Matter: Margaret Cavendish's Challenge to the Early Modern Order of Things (Mihoko Suzuki)
9. The Agency of Portrayal: The Active Portrait in the Early Modern Period (Saskia Beranek and Sheila ffolliott)
10. Rethinking the 'Medieval Housebook': A Gendered Intervention and its Consequences (Andrea Pearson)
Part IV Forming Communities
11. Claude-Catherine de Clermont and Proto-salon Society (Julie D. Campbell)
12. Religious Spaces and Alliances in the Far East: Women's Travel and Writing in Manila and Macao (Sarah E. Owens)
13. Accounting for Early Modern Women in the Arts: Reconsidering the Economic Role of their Networks and Relationships (Theresa Kemp, Catherine Powell, and Beth Link)

Reviews and Features

Winner of the SSEMWG Collaborative Project Award in the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender (SSEMWG) 2021 Book Awards.

“…an excellent overview of early modern women’s agency in multiple forms.”
- Amy Froide, Early Modern Women, Spring 2023

Merry Wiesner-Hanks (ed.)

Challenging Women's Agency and Activism in Early Modernity

Examining women’s agency in the past has taken on new urgency in the current moment of resurgent patriarchy, Women’s Marches, and the global #MeToo movement. The essays in this collection consider women’s agency in the Renaissance and early modern period, an era that also saw both increasing patriarchal constraints and new forms of women’s actions and activism. They address a capacious set of questions about how women, from their teenage years through older adulthood, asserted agency through social practices, speech acts, legal disputes, writing, viewing and exchanging images, travel, and community building. Despite family and social pressures, the actions of girls and women could shape their lives and challenge male-dominated institutions. This volume includes thirteen essays by scholars from various disciplines, which analyze people, texts, objects, and images from many different parts of Europe, as well as things and people that crossed the Atlantic and the Pacific.

Merry Wiesner-Hanks

Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks is Distinguished Professor of History Emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is the long-time Senior Editor of The Sixteenth Century Journal, and the author or editor of more than 30 books that have appeared in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Chinese, Turkish, and Korean.