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Call for abstracts | Women's Voices in Renaissance and Early Modern Scientific Culture
Mercoledì 01 Maggio 2024
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Galilæana, October 2025

Edited by Meredith K. Ray (University of Delaware) and Natacha Fabbri (Museo Galileo)

Submission deadlines 1 May 2024 (abstract) | 1 May 2025 (article)

Publication date October 2025

Journal section: Focus [read the section policies | submit]

The aim of this call is to address the pivotal, though often overlooked, role of women in shaping the landscape of early modern scientific inquiry, broadly construed. In early modern Europe, as debates over women’s intellectual equality raged, scientific expertise became intertwined with querelle des femmes literary production on the dignity of women, and women themselves became increasingly frequent participants in scientific discussions. Early efforts to bring visibility to the female presence in scientific culture date back to the 16th- and 17th-century catalogues of exceptional women, which were issued in specific volumes or included in philosophical and literary writings that questioned traditional gender roles.

Following significant historiographical contributions published over the last twenty years that has broadened our understanding of the scope and nature of women’s scientific activity, this special issue aims to focus on the wider engagement of women in empirical research and discussions of natural philosophy in and beyond Europe, including, but not limited to, such areas as alchemy, astronomy, medicine, and botany. We are also interested in women’s activity in the material culture of science: as producers, retailers, and users of scientific instruments, as well as in the intersections of gender and science with literary culture. The absence of women in professional spaces and the difficulties they faced in gaining public recognition for their research prompt us to turn toward the analysis of a more expansive array of sources, such as manuscripts, recipes, private and diplomatic correspondences, books of secrets, everyday domestic practices, as well as reports of women’s involvement in oral debates and exchanges. We welcome submissions that explore these topics from different theoretical frameworks, cultures, and disciplines; that critically analyze the socio-cultural constraints and challenges faced by women pursuing scientific endeavors in the early modern period; or that address the diverse strategies employed by early modern women to overcome barriers to scientific activity.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Women and the material culture of science: as makers, retailers, and users of scientific instruments
  • Women’s contributions to astronomical debate in the 16th and 17th centuries
  • Women as translators of works of natural philosophy
  • Domesticity in the making of modern science
  • Women and manuscript codices and secreta, written both in Latin and vernacular
  • Women in medical and alchemical treatises
  • Women and botany
  • Female interlocutors in scientific writings
  • Scientific discourse and the querelle des femmes
  • Women and scientific illustration
  • Hidden voices of science in convents

Abstracts must include the author’s/co-authors’ name(s), affiliation(s), and email address(es), in addition to a brief CV.

Authors are expected to submit 300-word abstracts in English by 1 May 2024 to Meredith Ray (Questo indirizzo email è protetto dagli spambots. È necessario abilitare JavaScript per vederlo.) and Natacha Fabbri (Questo indirizzo email è protetto dagli spambots. È necessario abilitare JavaScript per vederlo.). Proposals will be assessed by the journal’s editorial committee and by the editors of the focus.

Selected contributors will be notified by the end of May 2024.

Authors are expected to submit their articles in English by 1 May 2025 via the journal website at: gal-studies.museogalileo.it.

For more info, visit the web site.