Routledge Companion to Women, Sex, and Gender in the Early British Colonial World

Routledge, 2018

Over the past three decades women’s and gender studies have evolved into disciplines that have energized”and transformed”the study of the early modern period. But the study of women and gender is not the same. As a discipline, feminism begins with the assumption that the sexed body changes the interaction of the subject in political space, regardless of other considerations of subject position. How these other social categories inflect the position of woman as a social actor and political subject does in many ways define the discipline of feminist inquiry, but the sex of the body, irrespective of gender identification, has always informed feminist analysis, which concerns primarily the political uses to which the body is put: in its labor; its social position; its religious identity; its cultural participation. Gender studies, by contrast, typically elides biological sex, inquiring into how gender identity and identification crucially alter social and political engagement, and how gender is imbricated in the social, political and even epistemological arrangements and assumptions of culture. Now, however, we occupy a historical moment when this disciplinary divide has begun to collapse: when the sex of the body can be altered to adhere to the gender identity of the subject, when calls have been made to appropriate the long-eschewed science of biology for feminist analysis, our thinking about the sexed subject in political space must inevitably change. Our political moment alters our scholarly and theoretical practice. This volume presents a comprehensive examination of the scholarship on women and gender in Anglophone literature during the early modern period. It examines women’s lives, their practical and cultural work, the ideologies of gender that underwrite cultural production, and the divide between ideology and lived experience.