Alix Cooper, “Family Matters: Gendering the Labor of Early Modern Science”

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Alix Cooper, History, SUNY-Stony Brook

“Family Matters: Gendering the Labor of Early Modern Science”

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

6:00-7:30pm

Room 9205, Graduate Center, CUNY

In early modern Europe, the pursuit of natural knowledge was, in great part, a family enterprise.  In the course of researching women’s contributions to science, and more broadly issues of gender in science, historians of science have begun, over the past several decades, to uncover the numerous ways in which the actual practice of science in fields ranging from astronomy to botany depended on women’s unpaid (and often unrecognized) labor.  As a number of scholars have shown, wives and daughters frequently made the observations or performed the calculations required to sustain their male relatives’ scientific projects.  This talk will explore the ways in which, during the early modern period, research projects seem to have become the collective responsibility of entire households across generations, and the ways in which gendered divisions of labor emerged in the process.

Alix Cooper teaches early modern European history and the history of science, medicine, and the environment at SUNY-Stony Brook on Long Island.  Her first book was Inventing the Indigenous: Local Knowledge and Natural History in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2007); she is currently working on a book-length project on the role of homes and households in the shaping of early modern science and medicine.


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