The contention that before the late eighteenth century learned opinion held that there was only one sex, famously proposed by Thomas Laqueur in Making Sex (1990), has achieved near-canonical status in the eyes of many historians and literary scholars. In this seminar, Park will argue that this “one-sex” body was never hegemonic in Latin Europe and will propose an alternative narrative to describe evolving ideas of sex difference among European natural philosophers and medical men.
Katharine Park is Samuel Zemurray, Jr. and Doris Zemurray Stone Radcliffe Research Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University. Her books include Doctors and Medicine in Renaissance Florence; Secrets of Women: Gender, Generation, and the Origins of Human Dissection; Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750 (co-authored with Lorraine Daston); and The Cambridge History of Science, vol. 3: Early Modern Science (co-edited with Lorraine Daston). She is currently co-writing, with Ahmed Ragab, a new history of medieval science that presents science as practiced in medieval Latin Europe and the Islamicate world as contemporaneous and inextricably interrelated.