Book ID: CBB001551979

Daughters of Alchemy: Women and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy (2015)


Ray, Meredith K. (Author)

Harvard University Press

Publication Date: 2015
Physical Details: 291 pp.; bibl.; index
Language: English

The era of the Scientific Revolution has long been epitomized by Galileo. Yet many women were at its vanguard, deeply invested in empirical culture. They experimented with medicine and practical alchemy at home, at court, and through collaborative networks of practitioners. In academies, salons, and correspondence, they debated cosmological discoveries; in their literary production, they used their knowledge of natural philosophy to argue for their intellectual equality to men. Meredith Ray restores the work of these women to our understanding of early modern scientific culture. Her study begins with Caterina Sforza's alchemical recipes; examines the sixteenth-century vogue for “books of secrets”; and looks at narratives of science in works by Moderata Fonte and Lucrezia Marinella. It concludes with Camilla Erculiani's letters on natural philosophy and, finally, Margherita Sarrocchi's defense of Galileo's “Medicean” stars. Combining literary and cultural analysis, Daughters of Alchemy contributes to the emerging scholarship on the variegated nature of scientific practice in the early modern era. Drawing on a range of under-studied material including new analyses of the Sarrocchi--Galileo correspondence and a previously unavailable manuscript of Sforza's Experimenti, Ray's book rethinks early modern science, properly reintroducing the integral and essential work of women.

Reviewed By

Review Luciano Boschiero (2017) Review of "Daughters of Alchemy: Women and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy". Metascience: An International Review Journal for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science (pp. 199-200). unapi

Review Barbara Tramelli (2016) Review of "Daughters of Alchemy: Women and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy". Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza (pp. 647-650). unapi

Review Francesco G. Sacco (2016) Review of "Daughters of Alchemy: Women and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy". British Journal for the History of Science (pp. 122-123). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Settle, Thomas B.
Park, Katharine
DeVun, Leah
Whaley, Leigh Ann
Fantoli, Annibale
Coyne, George V.
Bruniana & Campanelliana: Ricerche Filosofiche e Materiali Storico-testuali
Journal of the History of Ideas
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
I Tatti Studies: Essays in the Renaissance
Galilæana: Journal of Galilean Studies
Zone Books
Palgrave Macmillan
University of Notre Dame
University of Pennsylvania
Natural philosophy
Women in medicine
Science and gender
Women in science
Galilei, Galileo
Jesus Christ
Sennert, Daniel
Sforza, Caterina
Portaleone, Abraham b. David
Aldrovandi, Ulisse
Padua (Italy)
16th century
17th century
Early modern
15th century
Jesuits (Society of Jesus)

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