Experience, Authority, and the Alchemy of Language: Margaret Cavendish and Marie Meurdrac Respond to the Art
By the time Marie Meurdrac published La Chymie Charitable & Facile, en Faveur des Dames (1666) and Margaret Cavendish published the Philosophical Letters: Or, Modest Reflections Upon some Opinions in Natural Philosophy (1664), the controversy surrounding the field of applied chemistry in France — where both lived mid-century — had become primarily an academic one. It was not, however, “academic” to Margaret Cavendish and Marie Meurdrac, who would have been excluded from the knowledge communities of universities and natural philosophers who took sides in this debate. They, nevertheless, contributed to arguments on the subject, despite assuming that their contributions would be negatively received. Each begins with a prefatory defense against anticipated male criticism, though the reader to whom they direct their words is explicitly identified as female. Their conscious use of a double audience — of women exchanging ideas and men condemning their efforts — previews the rhetorical skills they exhibit in later chapters arguing for and against specific practices, practitioners, and theorists of applied chemistry, an area encompassing alchemy and medicine.
© 2021 Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal
|Work Title||Experience, Authority, and the Alchemy of Language: Margaret Cavendish and Marie Meurdrac Respond to the Art|
|License||CC BY-NC 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial)|
|Publication Date||April 1, 2021|
|Publisher Identifier (DOI)||
|Deposited||August 04, 2022|
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