He Is the Sun, She Is the Moon: Women in Early Modern Germany / Edition 1

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Overview

Renowned German social historian Heide Wunder refers to the cosmic image contained in the 1578 Book of Marital Discipline that characterizes the relationship between husband and wife. Today, "He is the sun, she is the moon" might be interpreted as a hierarchy of dominance and subordination. At the time it was used, however, sun and moon reflected the different but equal status of husband and wife.

Wunder shows how the history of women and the history of gender relations can provide crucial insights into how societies organize themselves and provide resources for political action. She observes actual circumstances as well as the normative rules that were supposed to guide women's lives. We learn what skills were necessary to take charge of households, what people ate, how they furnished their homes, what birth control measures were available, what role women played in peasant protest. Wunder finds that, in addition to the history of losses and setbacks for women observed by so many current interpreters, there is a history of gains as well. The regency of noble women was normal, as was the shared responsibility of wife and husband in a peasant household, an artisan's workshop, or a merchant's business.

Using sources as diverse as memoirs, wedding and funeral sermons, novels, and chronicles, and including a wealth of demographic information, Wunder reveals a surprising new image of early modern women and provides a richer interpretation of early modern Europe.

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What People Are Saying


An important work by a major historian, Wunder's book goes a long way beyond the older 'compensatory' women's history, and has very little in common with more recent feminist pronouncements in which the state of women in earlier times is considered largely in isolation from its historical context. As a social historian, Wunder is chiefly interested in the gradual change of western Europe from a society of estates possessing greater or lesser privilege into one in which bourgeois forms and values predominated. The place, role, and experience of women in this transition--women's changing opportunities for action in life, as she puts it--are the subject of He is the Sun, She is the Moon, which is not a separate history of women, but an explanation of how a process of historical development becomes visible in the lives and activities of both genders.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674383210
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.92 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Heide Wunder is Professor of Social History, University of Kassel, Germany.
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Table of Contents

Preface: Women in the History of Early Modern Europe
1 Women's Lives, Life Stories, and History in the Early Modern Period 1
2 The Stages of a Woman's Life: The Course of Life and Life Stories 16
3 Marriage: Keeping House and Making a Living 37
4 Work and Life Become Family-Based 63
5 Professionalization, Experience, and Common Sense 85
6 "The Lord Have Mercy on All Pregnant Women": The Female Body as Destiny? 113
7 "Single and Unattached": Maids and Widows 128
8 "Evil" Women: Sorceresses and Witches 143
9 Gynarchy - Women in Charge 153
10 Women's Courage: Pious Women, Rebellious Women 163
11 Women's Rights, Civic Rights, Human Rights: Emancipation and Coming of Age in the Age of Enlightenment and Revolution? 185
12 "He Is the Sun, She Is the Moon" 202
Notes 211
References 225
Index 303
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