'So go home young ladies': Women and Medicine in Nineteenth-Century Canada

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'So go home young ladies': Women and Medicine in Nineteenth-Century Canada
In late nineteenth century Canada more and more women successfully entered the all-male domain of medicine. However, as the author points out, these women often had to overcome a number of obstacles put in their way that were often biologically, religiously, economically, socially, and nationally motivated. Biographical information on Emily Stowe (1831–1903) and Jennie Kidd Trout (1841–1921), who were two of the most notable pioneer women doctors in Canada, both based in Toronto, here serves as context for the discussion of the mysterious Dr. James Barry (1789/1795?–1865), a woman who, cross-dressing as a man, successfully worked as a British Army surgeon for more than 40 years, including in 1857 as the Montreal-based inspector general of military hospitals, the British Army's senior doctor in Canada, and of the celebrated heart specialist and curator of the McGill University medical museum, Dr. Maude E. Abbott (1869–1940). The author points out that their lives have been documented over the years in both fictional and non-fictional narratives that particularly emphasize their success in the male medical profession and also reveal ongoing negotiations of gender norms during their lives and at the respective times of publication of the narratives. In all accounts, the author argues, the boundaries between fact and fiction blur, so that, in New Historical fashion, no privilege is given to any of the genres; rather, all texts are considered as doing cultural work in their own specific ways. Consequently, both cases shed new light on the interfaces of the history of medicine, biographical and literary scholarship, feminism and gender studies.
Zeitschrift für Kanada-Studien
Vol. 34
Issue 63
Birkle, Carmen. “‘So Go Home Young Ladies’: Women and Medicine in Nineteenth-Century Canada.” Zeitschrift für Kanada-Studien Vol. 34, no. Issue 63 (2014): 126–159. http://www.kanada-studien.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/ZKS_2014_7_Birkle.pdf.
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