This chapter introduces the book’s main historical figures and central argument: despite key overlaps, seventeenth-century English men and women perceived illness in gendered ways. Patients’ perceptions, however, were not shaped by gender alone. Rather, a host of beliefs, expectations, and experiences intersected with gender to inform patients’ views. The chapter discusses three categories that are particularly central to the analysis in this book: writing practices, religious beliefs, and economic status. The chapter then situates the project in three bodies of literature: the history of the patient, early modern gendered experience, and early modern autobiographical writing. The discussion closes by outlining the diverse sources that are used in the book to recover patients’ perceptions.
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