Document Type

Book Chapter


This collection examines questions of identity and community, starting from the premise that gender mattered to early modern women and men. As concepts, both 'identity' and' community' denote similarity or affinity, but they also connote difference as well. That is, the process of defining key characteristics or shared values implies exclusion or separation from other similar entities. Given that recognizing diversity among women has been a major concern of feminist scholarship in recent decades, how to take account of differences between individual women while looking at the groups in which they participated raises serious questions. What patterns of gender emerge from the differences among women? How did gender interact with other parameters in women's lives, as well as with their own perceptions and experiences of embodiment, to structure female agency? In paying attention to the contexts in which women identified with other women, or were so perceived by others, this collection offers analyses of women's sense(s) of gender identity, and how the labels ascribed to them enabled different senses of affiliation and exclusion.