51, 2 (Spring 2011): 327–347ISSN 0039-3657327
Purgation, Exorcism, and theCivilizing Process in
BRYAN ADAMS HAMPTON
, Wendy Wall richly complicates our thinking about early modern domesticity, including the everyday tasks of food preparation, laundering, and pot scrubbing, as de-lineated in domestic manuals as the art and practice of effective“huswifery.” She argues that these seemingly mundane activitiesshaped evolving ideas of English nationhood, identity, gender,and the playhouse.
Robert Cleaver, commenting on English do-mesticity and echoing many of his contemporaries, argues that the husband yields authority to his wife over “those things that belong unto the kitchen, and to huswiferie, and to their house-hold stuffe.”
Falling under the aegis of “household stuff,” Wallobserves, is “physicke,” or medical care, which was among theEnglish housewife’s most signicant duties. The Galenic body wasgoverned by humours that were constantly in ux, thus leadingprofessional doctors and housewives to treat early modern bodiesas systems needing incessant care and maintenance. Wall statesthat “the early modern body was in constant need of evacuations:enemas, laxatives, and emetics for the lower body stratum; herbs,changes in thermal conditions, and air for upper body ‘purges’(vomiting, coughing, burping); blood-letting, exercise, and orgasmfor all around purication.”
In his poem
A New Anatomie
(1605),Robert Underwood compares this open Galenic body to a “moove-able” house, whose “kitchen” is both the repository and principalsite of purgation: And rst, the
seated was,as nethermost of all,
Bryan Adams Hampton is Dorothy and James D. Kennedy Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor of English, and serves as the coordinator of theHumanities Program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.