Sharon T. Strocchia
Department of History
Office: Bowden 308
Phone: (404) 727-4285
Sharon T. Strocchia, Professor (B.A., Stanford University; M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley); social and cultural history of Renaissance Italy; gender and sexuality in early modern Europe; social history of medicine in premodern Europe. Author of Death and Ritual in Renaissance Florence (1992) and Nuns and Nunneries in Renaissance Florence (2009), which won the 2010 Marraro Prize awarded by the American Catholic Historical Association for the best book in Italian history.
In recent years, my interests have shifted more explicitly to issues of health and healing in early modern Europe. I edited a special issue of Renaissance Studies (Vol. 28, no. 4, September 2014) devoted to the theme of Women and Healthcare in Early Modern Europe. Written by an international team of scholars, this special issue brings fresh interpretive perspectives and extensive archival research to bear on the reappraisal of women’s medical activities in early modern Europe. Spanning England and the continent from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, the collection situates female practitioners not on the margins of medical practice but rather at the nexus of household medicine, emerging structures of public health, and the production of medical knowledge. The essays demonstrate how increased demand for healthcare services in the early modern period opened new opportunities for women’s participation in a variety of health-related activities, from pharmacy and “physick” to the provision of care. Drawing on a wide range of sources—court records, letters, inventories, printed herbals, parish account books, physicians’ journals, proceedings of state health boards—the collection showcases how innovative public health initiatives capitalized on domestic medical skills and probes sites of knowledge production and exchange outside university and guild settings. Whether spotlighting local artisans and noblewomen who worked without formal compensation or “expert” practitioners who purveyed their skills in the marketplace, the essays cast new light on women’s claims to medical expertise and their self-perception as healers. Taking up issues of importance to Renaissance scholars across the disciplines, the collection reorients the ways we look at the provisioning of healthcare in the early modern period.
I am also working on a new book project, tentatively titled Cultures of Care: Women, Knowledge and the Pursuit of Health in Late Renaissance Italy. Mining rich archival sources from Florence, Rome, Bologna and Venice, this study situates women as agents of health and healing within the rapidly shifting medical landscape of sixteenth-century Italy. Increased demand for healthcare services and a renewed emphasis on preventive health opened new opportunities for women’s involvement with Italian medical provisioning. As apothecaries, household experts, hospital nurses, and charitable caregivers working within increasingly coordinated networks of care, female practitioners not only delivered crucial services but also helped transform convents, conservatories and princely courts into important sites of health literacy and knowledge production. By using gender as the primary optic, my project identifies women healers as significant knowledge brokers and revises conventional understandings of how Renaissance healthcare was organized, practiced and gendered.
- Social and cultural history of Renaissance Italy
- Women’s history in early modern Europe
- Social history of medicine in the premodern world