Edith Snook

Professor, Chair



Carleton Hall 228-2


1 506 458 7397

Edith Snook’s research and teaching focus on early modern English literature, with a particular interest in writing by women. She is the author of two books. Women, Beauty and Power in Early Modern England: A Feminist Literary History (Palgrave, 2011; SSHRC funded) was named a 2011 Outstanding Academic Title by Choice. This book looks at print and manuscript materials to explore how women linked their understanding of cosmetics, clothing, and hair to medicine, politics, religion, motherhood, and gender, class, and racial identities.

Her first book, Women, Reading, and the Cultural Politics of Early Modern England (Ashgate 2005), is a study of representations of reading in early modern women’s writing. Among her other publications are essays on children's diseases, recipes, and women's knowledge in Social History of Medicine and an essay on hair, health, and privilege in The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies.

She has two current research projects. Funded by SSHRC, Early Modern Maritime Recipes is a collaboration with Dr. Lyn Bennett at Dalhousie University. They are collecting, analyzing, and making available in electronic form recipes that were circulating before 1800 in what is now defined as Canada’s Maritime provinces. The focus is manuscript and print recipes created in the region (which excludes recipe books printed elsewhere but brought here).

Her second research project, which also receive SSHRC funding, is a monograph study of how women's medical practice informed women's writing in seventeenth-century England. Because diagnosis, the manufacture of medicines, and the prevention of disease were recognized as essential knowledge for housewives and mothers, many early modern women provided health care within the household. Others became professional, if usually unlicensed, physicians. 

The Culture of Physic: Women’s Writing and Medicine in Early Modern England recognizes the prevalence of this labour and undertakes substantial, original archival research with the manuscripts and printed books and ephemera it produced. The Culture of Physic investigates how these textual and medical practices infiltrated literary forms  undertaken by women—autobiography, poetry, the familiar letter, fiction, and poetry writing—and examine how religion, social relationships, and politics inform women’s medical knowledge. The project focuses on Elizabeth Isham, Ann Fanshawe, Grace Mildmay, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, and Jane Barker.

Professor Snook supervises theses on early modern non-dramatic literature, particularly women's writing. Current member of the Graduate Academic Unit.