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Ill ComposedSickness, Gender, and Belief in Early Modern England$
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Olivia Weisser

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300200706

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300200706.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 16 October 2019

Learning How to Be Ill

Learning How to Be Ill

(p.46) 2. Learning How to Be Ill
Ill Composed

Olivia Weisser

Yale University Press

This chapter shifts from healers’ writing to patients’ words. The chapter analyzes three types of stories that patients relied upon to make sense of illness: religious models of suffering, tales about others’ ailments, and patients’ own prior experiences. The first half of the chapter analyzes firsthand accounts to show how the particularities of sufferers’ communities, work, and daily lives compelled many women to rely on friends and family to diagnose and evaluate illness, while men tended to look to their own bodies as barometers of health. Focusing on devotional literature and the detailed diary of one woman, Mary Rich, the remainder of the chapter looks at how the embodied dimensions of devotional exercises, such as meditation and prayer, taught sufferers to view their ailing bodies in spiritual terms.

Keywords:   work, recipes, religion, devotional practices, writing practices, observations, sickness

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