Early Modern Women in the Low Countries

Feminizing Sources and Interpretations of the Past

Early Modern Women in the Low Countries LOOK INSIDE
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  • Susan Broomhall, The University of Western Australia and Jennifer Spinks, University of Manchester, UK
  • Series: Women and Gender in the Early Modern World
  • Combining historical, historiographical, museological, and touristic analysis, this study investigates how late medieval and early modern women of the Low Countries expressed themselves through texts, art, architecture and material objects, how they were represented by contemporaries, and how they have been interpreted in modern academic and popular contexts.

    Broomhall and Spinks analyse late medieval and early modern women's opportunities to narrate their experiences and ideas, as well as the processes that have shaped their representation in the heritage and cultural tourism of the Netherlands and Belgium today. The authors study female-authored objects such as familial and political letters, dolls' houses, account books; visual sources, funeral monuments, and buildings commissioned by female patrons; and further artworks as well as heritage sites, streetscapes, souvenirs and clothing with gendered historical resonances.

    Employing an innovative range of materials from written sources to artworks, material objects, heritage sites and urban precincts, the authors argue that interpretations of late medieval and early modern women's experiences by historians and art scholars interact with presentations by cultural and heritage tourism providers in significant ways that deserve closer interrogation by feminist researchers.
  • Contents: Introduction; Writing elite women into the Burgundian and Habsburg Netherlands; Visualizing women's work in the textile trades at the dawn of the Golden Age; Memorializing grief in familial and national narratives of Dutch identity; Imagining domesticity in early modern Dutch dolls' houses; The Rembrandt House and the Rubens House: encountering early modern women through heritage sites; Sources and settings: the uses of place for tourism, heritage and history; Purchasing the past: gender and the consumption of heritage; Conclusion: from yesterday to tomorrow: seeing and hearing women in the Low Countries; Works cited; Index.
  • About the Author: Susan Broomhall is Professor of Early Modern History at The University of Western Australia. Jennifer Spinks is Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Manchester, UK.
  • Reviews: Classified as 'Research Essential' by Baker & Taylor YBP Library Services
    A Yankee Book Peddler US Core Title for 2011

    'Early Modern Women in the Low Countries adds a fundamental chapter to the history of women. This is the first time that such an extensive body of historical, literary and artistic sources on early modern women of the Low Countries has been surveyed. The interaction between different methodological approaches provides a stimulating discourse on the way narratives about women have been developed. An analysis stemming from the intertwined fields of museology and heritage studies reveals that modern female visitors to The Netherlands and Belgium are encouraged to feel part of a wider historical continuity. Susan Broomhall and Jennifer Spinks thus not only encounter women of the past as scholars but also as tourists and as women in their bold and innovative exploration of interpretations of the past and women's experiences within it.'
    Katlijne Van der Stighelen, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

    '[This] book challenges historians to expand the materials they use to study women of the past, while challenging curators in the heritage sector to be alert to what they say about women in their own domains.' Renaissance Quarterly

    '… this willingness to approach gender history from a novel perspective has produced a book whose wide-ranging perspective forces historians to think again about how they can use problematic sources to uncover female lives, as well as demanding that curators take note of scholarly trends. This study is a cutting edge inquiry into the two-way dialogue that can exist between academic and tourist contexts to elucidate women’s experiences.' Women's History Review

    'This book is not so much about early modern Netherlandish women as it is about representations of them. In a series of discrete essays the authors examine a highly diverse array of sources and how they portray certain types of women in the Low Countries during the late medieval and early modern eras… Early Modern Women in the Low Countries will be of interest to historians of women and gender, art historians, scholars of cultural studies and museology.' Sixteenth Century Studies

    'This book takes the early modern women of the Low Countries out of the interpretative folders into which they have typically been placed by both scholars and curators. It then shakes them up in a diverse selection of sources, to show how they can be located into new narratives that give us a richer understanding of their identities. Feminists, historians, and curators alike should read this book: it breaks new ground in women’s history.' Parergon

    'An important strength of Susan Broomhall and Jennifer Spinks’s co-written volume is its keen awareness of the constructedness of all historical accounts. Interestingly, it chooses to focus on those accounts that inform the wider public’s enjoyment of historical places and spaces in the Low Countries. Through a series of detailed studies, Broomhall and Spinks investigate and question the use of historical sources both by historiography and by the heritage industry, and the choices made by those whose job it is to convey a sense of the past to visitors to museums, galleries, and tourist destinations in Flanders and the Netherlands.' Modern Language Review