2021 SSEMWG Book Award:

Awarded Author

Ulrike Strassen received an award-winning book on German Jesuit missionaries and their Pacific trips in the early modern period.

Strasser studies gender and global history by following the Jesuits from Europe to the Pacific. The German Jesuits seeking martyrdom over the globe brought their religious, sexual, and gender beliefs with them.

Even if the study of men and Jesuits is not new, Strasser challenges our understanding of gender in early modern Europe’s patriarchal civilizations.

For her, the Jesuits forged new masculinity with feminine and masculine characteristics. The Jesuits forced their own ideals of acceptable feminine conduct on indigenous cultures. The interaction between the many sexes’ portrayals in Europe and globally is then brought to light in her work.


Book of the Year Honorable Mention

Martha Moffitt-Heroines, Peacock’s Harpies, and Housewives: Imaging Women of Consequence gives a powerful alternative to studies that highlight patriarchy in the work of Dutch Golden Age painters.

She uses traditional female archetypes like heroines, harpies, and housewives to emphasize the contradictory discourses that praised women’s place in society while also exposing anxieties about female influence.

Peacock’s photographs and essays highlight the unusual combination of factors that allowed Dutch women to gain and maintain social and cultural independence in the past century or so.


Book Awards Honorable Mention

Dr. John Christopoulos’s extensive research of abortion discourses in early modern Italy includes genuine experiences of men and women who had abortions. Contrary to popular opinion, Catholic Italy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was not an anti-abortion society.

Christopoulos addresses both the history of abortion in general and the lives of particular women and men who had abortions throughout this time period. In this paradigm, abortion-related experiences and decisions are given particular attention because to their complexity and sensitivity.


The SSEMWG’s best essay or article award:

by Lara Dodds and Michelle M. Dowd

Dowd and Dodds’ thoughtful and groundbreaking work is a call to arms. On the other hand, it attacks the marginalization of early modern women scholars’ work.

Why this problem endures in English literature after decades of exceptional and important work is a worrisome and fascinating study for humanist academics of all disciplines.

It will spark impassioned debates throughout academia. Dowd and Dodd’s “feminist formalism” approach is based on early modern women’s interactions with form. This method works well in Elizabeth Cary’s Mariam (1613) and Hester Pulter’s poetry.

Regardless of the authors’ response, they make a compelling case for recognizing progress and examining feminist history to understand what obstacles have slowed our progress. The authors have tackled a subject of enormous importance to early modern academics.

SSEMWG Editions:

Josephine Roberts Scholarly Edition Award

Plays 1682-1696, by Rachel Adcock, Kate Aughterson, Claire Bowditch, Elaine Hobby, Alan James Hogarth, Anita Pacheco, and Margarete Rubik (Cambridge, 2021).

Aphra Behn wrote five plays in her last years, which are featured in this mammoth collection. This first edition in an eight-part series includes an overview of Behn’s work in relation to the book trade, as well as a cultural, linguistic, and political context.

While the plays themselves are the core of the book, the research surrounding them makes it a must-have resource for students and academicians of early modern women and gender.

Each play has an article that describes the historical location, subject content, performance history, and staging. Footnotes provide additional historical and linguistic context for the text. This collection will be useful for both professionals and students interested in early modern women and gender.


A prize for academic translations

Letters and Poems from Her Mentor and Other Members of Her Circle by Anna Marie van Schurman (Toronto, 2021).

Many early modern women’s studies specialists and students recognize Anna Marie van Schurman’s works as an exemplar of remarkable femininity.

Van Schurman has a minor position in history because of her private and limited letters, which are deemed irrelevant by scholars. Her work is a minor canon. This compilation makes van Schurman’s correspondence with some of Europe’s most prominent intellectuals available in English for the first time.

The editors analyze Van Schurman’s life in the Netherlands, her experience as the first woman permitted to attend lectures at a Dutch university (although in a cubicle), her religious life, and intellectual accomplishments, all with an eye on women and gender.

This comprehensive biography highlights Van Schurman’s contributions to gender, women’s education, and religion. As a consequence, she is framed as a great scholar whose gender influenced her accomplishments.


Honorable Mention in Scholarly Edition:

Eleonora Carinci. Hannah Marcus’ English translation by Paula Findlen, preface. Resources


This artwork is by Camilla Erculiani.

Iter Press, NY/TO, 2021.

The researchers who worked on the project brought to life Camilla Erculiani, a 16th-century Italian pharmacist and significant member of the scientific community.

It will help us better understand women’s writing history if we can better understand women’s writing in Counter-Reformation Italy and by female scientists. Discovered by Findlen, Carinci introduced it, and Marcus translated the complex source materials, it is a joint scholarly effort.


Prize for Educators

Warren, Few, and Tortorici.

Postmortem on Incision Baptism

Caesarean Operation in the Spanish Empire.

University Park is home to Penn State.

2020, UP.

It’s an odd habit of performing caesareans on recently deceased pregnant mothers to baptize their unborn children. This book examines early modern gender, medicine, and religion.

Nina M. Scott includes a translation of Pedro José de Arrese’s 1786 work on the issue in her critical introduction. It’s a handy resource for Latin American scholars, students, and anybody interested in contemporary female bodies.


SSEMWG Graduate Student Presentation Award:


According to Beth Bourn Williams’ “Performing Domesticity at Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate Court, 1653–1658,” For the most part, historians have concluded that 17th-century republicans were aiming to change Charles I’s court’s personal and feminine politics by separating the personal (defined as women, domesticity, and affect) from the (defined as men, the state, the rational). Bourn Williams claims the reality is far more convoluted.

Despite the protectorate’s “masculine, formal, and depersonalized appearance,” the highest levels of government established geographical and ceremonial differences.

Their seeming seclusion from public life was perceived by English audiences as a republican ideal, yet their major engagement in diplomatic events preserved the sense of personal access to the king.

Not only does Bourn Williams’ paper show the performative aspect of Cromwellian claims to establish “collective politics founded on impersonal institutions and serving the public interest,” but it also shows the protectorate government’s and contemporary scholars’ involvement in perpetuating that masculine ideal, despite significant historical evidence to the contrary.

Given its implications, Bourn Williams’ paper reminds us that gender is a crucial category of historical study, one that may shatter illusions of politics and research being distinct from women’s inner lives and the images they reflect.


Special Mention:

The ability of 17th-century Navarrese women to possess, sell, produce, and inherit books established their social legitimacy and independence, according to Alexandra Wingate’s book “No entienda el Balor de los libros.

” Female autonomy in Spain originated from the agency and communication skills required to construct book collections–or even visit a bookstore alone.

Because she couldn’t read, possess, or discuss books’ intellectual and cultural worth, the “pobre mujer” was less socially successful than her book-owning peers. As a result, women’s worth in 17th century Spain was connected to the value of books.


SSEMWG Collaborative Project Award

‘Challenging Women’s Agency and Activism, Merry E. Ed. Merry E. Amsterdam University Press will publish it in 2021.

Challenges to Women’s Agency and Activism in Early Modernity offer fresh viewpoints. These verbs let readers understand early modern women’s autonomy. The book is beautifully interlaced with chapters on women’s autonomy (or lack thereof), portraiture, and travel writing in East Asia.

The book’s authors explore women’s agency using newer analytical tools including the material turn and the history of emotions. The book’s transdisciplinary approach and action and agency insights are amazing.

Experts from subjects as diverse as art history and English have weighed in. Finally, chapters are concise without sacrificing intellectual rigor, making them excellent for classroom usage.

This book also includes pedagogical implications of action and agency history. “Historical agency,” as promised by its editor, “is greeted with an engaging collection that more than lives up to its promise.”

SSEMWG Digital Work Scholarship: No award in 2021.


SSEMWG best article award

Early Modern Women 15

Emily Kuffner’s “Sweet Chains and Happy Prisons: Collective Rituals of Pregnancy and Birthing in Seventeenth-Century Spanish Occasional Poetry and Domestic Remedy Manuals” provides crucial new insight into early modern Spanish birthing culture.

Kuffner focuses on rare poems by Ramrez de Guzmán and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz to uncover the network of poetry, gifts, recipe books, and birthing manuals that influenced early modern obstetrics.

Obstetrics was combined with emotional support, household skills, and religious dedication to ensuring the health and survival of both mother and infant despite scary odds.

Kuffner shows how Sor Juana and Ramirez position themselves as comadres, or co-mothers, who partake in the unique and unexpected process of delivering their children. Women’s skills and communities played an important part in early modern medicine, as she illustrates.

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