Bodies, Bodywork and the Medical Cosmologies of Early Modern Kitchen-Physic
Keywords:early modern, medical history, women's history
Although medical practice in England was ostensibly structured in a tripartite hierarchy of physicians, apothecaries and barber-surgeons, such regulation was ineffective outside of urban centres, and the manufacture and administration of homemade medicines, widely known as ‘kitchen-physic’, was ubiquitous in households across the country. Kitchen-physic receipts provide unprecedented insight into the lived experience of illness and embodiment in the early modern world. This article examines depictions of ‘the body’ in seventeenth century medical receipts, and the humoral, iatrochemical and astrological assumptions underpinning these. It argues for early modern corporeality to be understood through a framework of affective subjectivity, and for household medicine to be contextualised within Mary Fissell’s notion of ‘bodywork’.