Women and Illness in Dutch Art Talk – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Women and Illness in Dutch Art Talk

Pre-Enlightenment art and medicine is the focus of a talk on 17th-century Dutch art

(Oct. 12, 2004) GENEVA, N.Y.–Professor Laurinda Dixon will present an illustrated lecture on “Perilous Chastity: Women, Illness and Gender Politics in 17th Century Dutch Art” at 7:45 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 18, in the Sanford Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library on the Hobart and William Smith Colleges campus.

Her talk will be related to her book “Perilous Chastity: Women and Illness in Pre-Enlightenment Art and Medicine” (Cornell University Press, 1995). In her book Dixon shows how paintings reflect changing medical theories concerning women, and traces the evolution of the belief that women's illnesses were caused by “hysteria,” so named in ancient Greece after the notion that the uterus had a tendency to wander in the body, particularly in the bodies of celibates. In the art Dixon perceives the metaphoric identifications of the womb as the source of illness, as well as changing fashions in cures for hysteria.

Dixon, a professor at Syracuse University since 1982, is the Tolley Distinguished Teaching Professor in Fine Arts and Humanities. She is a specialist in Northern European art, and her 10 books and many articles explore the relationship between art and science before the Enlightenment. Her most recent publications are “In Sickness and in Health: Disease as Metaphor in Art and Popular Wisdom” (University of Delaware Press, 2004) and “Hieronymous Bosch” (Phaidon Publishers, 2003). She holds a degree from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and a Ph.D. in art history from Boston University.