Is time gendered? This collection of essays addresses this question with a focus on the early modern period, an era that is itself designated by a contested periodization. It examines gendered and embodied temporalities, and the ways that time structured early modern lives and the textual and material commemorations of those lives.
The essays examine aspects of gendered temporality in England, Italy, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Aceh, and Virginia, thus allowing transregional and transnational comparisons. The authors come from different scholarly disciplines, including art history, English, history, Spanish, and women's and gender studies, and several are written by interdisciplinary groups of authors. The collection is divided into three parts—temporality and materiality, frameworks and taxonomies of time, and embodied time—followed by an epilogue that considers how these issues play out in the classroom, and explores the contemporary stakes of this research. The essays draw on a broad array of textual and material primary sources—letters, medicinal recipes, almanacs, scholarly works, poems, plays, court testimonies, biographies and autobiographies, sacred stories, puzzles, wills, petitions, financial records, royal edicts, mirrors for princes, paintings, sculpture, needlework, and household objects. The use of a wide variety of material objects as sources is particularly noteworthy. Material culture is becoming an increasingly important part of the analysis of the past, and the essays in the book that analyze how material objects express, shape, complicate, and extend human concepts of time represent this trend. Among the material objects examined in the book is the human body, as some essays explore somatic experiences of temporality in periods that range from the moment to the family life course. Whether they use material or textual evidence, or both, essays examine categories, definitions, and conceptualizations of time set out by both women and men, and by individuals across the social scale, thus examining elite and popular culture. Taken together, the essays allow an assessment of the ways that gender and other categories of difference condition understandings of time, and note how contemporary and early modern conceptions of time inform one another and our work as scholars and teachers.
Most of the essays in this volume began as presentations and conversations at the ninth Attending to Early Modern Women conference, held in 2015 at the University of Wisconsin– Milwaukee, for which the title was the rather playful: ‘It's About Time’.