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Bodies, Bodywork and the Medical Cosmologies of Early Modern Kitchen-Physic

Ingrid Schreiber


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’.


early modern bodies; kitchen-physic; receipt culture; humoralism; iatrochemistry; affect theory; bodywork

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Copyright (c) 2019 Ingrid Schreiber

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