This introduction to the book discusses seventeenth-century medical and spiritual contexts for the ten women's works that follow, highlighting the importance of studying representations of physicality and illness in works that sought, predominantly, to communicate the vividness of religious experience, as well as exploring the significance of religious beliefs and biblical allusion in medical treatises. The introduction is divided into five sections that discuss: the different ways in which the relationship between flesh and spirit was understood; the relationship between sin and childbirth (as well as illness and miscarriage); the seventeenth-century political and religious climate and understandings of providence; the relationship between conversion, health, and wellbeing; and a discussion of the circumstances that allowed or encouraged women's writing.
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