In describing and explaining the sexes, medicine and science participated in the delineation of what was ‘feminine’ and what was ‘masculine’ in the Middle Ages. Hildegard of Bingen and Albertus Magnus, among others, writing about gynecology, the human constitution, fetal development, or the naturalistic dimensions of divine Creation, became increasingly interested in issues surrounding reproduction and sexuality. Did women as well as men produce procreative seed? How did the physiology of the sexes influence their healthy state and their susceptibility to disease? Who derived more pleasure from intercourse, men or women? This book explores how scientific ideas about sex differences in the later Middle Ages participated in the broader culture’s assumptions about gender. Cadden discusses how medieval natural philosophical theories and medical notions about reproduction and sexual impulses and experiences intersected with ideas about such matters as the social roles of men and women, and the purpose of marriage.
The Meanings of Sex Difference in the Middle Ages
av Joan Cadden
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