District Court for the District of Columbia. Brogan, Nilab Tolton and the five other lead plaintiffs said Oct. The result is sex bias being baked into pay, promotion, and other key personnel decisions, the women say.
Few since have disagreed. Up to the close of the last century, studies of early modern demonic possession were dominated by psychoanalytic perspectives, and it seems fair to say that such perspectives are more than usually likely to produce an association between possession and the female body.
More recent studies have reached the same conclusion as de Certeau from a different and more strictly historicist angle. Nancy Caciola and Moshe Sluhovsky both agree that possession was linked to femininity but trace this link to premodern medical concepts of gender rather than twentieth-century psychiatric ones.
Yet the assertions of these historicist scholars are interestingly close to those of the psychoanalytic studies that preceded them. A similar trend has been apparent in medical historiography.
After Laqueur sensationally claimed that the premodern era lacked a binary concept of gender, a series of major studies devoted themselves to reassessing, and to some extent rebuilding, the anatomical and physiological premises of early modern sexual difference.
Much of this work has focused on medical writings on womb diseases.
But they have also, it might be argued, subtly confirmed it, by emphasizing the extent to which the womb was indeed viewed as a potent source of mental and physical illnesses that were unique to women. Since some of these illnesses, such as suffocation of the womb, possessed cultural associations with demonic possession, studies like these offer powerful support for the notion that possession too was a kind of female malady.
This article takes as its starting point a series of early modern exorcisms that challenge these premises. For them, the possessions of Richard Mainy and Sara Williams would have presented a reminder of the similarities rather than the differences between the sexes, and the different but related kinds of plenitude—sexual, humoral, demonic—that affected both.
Continue reading …. In this article Boyd Brogan reconsiders the gendering of the early modern body from the perspectives of exorcism and medicine, challenging the emphasis on sexual difference that has guided a generation of work in both these fields.
He argues that even the most recent historicist approaches to early modern possession and illness remain shaped by psychoanalytic interpretations that associate possession with hysteria. It was this wider category of illnesses, affecting both men and women, that was associated with demonic possession in this period.
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Both possession and the diseases that resembled it, moreover, were linked to early modern theories of sexual physiology that stressed the similarities rather than the differences between male and female sexuality. He works on sexual abstinence and illness in premodern medicine and on epilepsy, hysteria, and demonic possession from the early modern period to the twentieth century. Continue reading … In this article Boyd Brogan reconsiders the gendering of the early modern body from the perspectives of exorcism and medicine, challenging the emphasis on sexual difference that has guided a generation of work in both these fields.