The Evolution of Women's Asylums Since 1500

The Evolution of Women's Asylums Since 1500 : From Refuges for Ex-Prostitutes to Shelters for Battered Women

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The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Catholic Europe witnessed the growth of new institutions designed to house repentant prostitutes and girls and women at risk of becoming prostitutes. This little-known surge in institution building arose out of the Catholic reform movement and the Counter-Reformation. Cohen presents a portrait of life in three such institutions for women in the Italian cities of Florence and Pistoia. These institutions represented a new residential option for women beyond the traditional options of marriage or convent. They were "asylums" in a dual sense, operating as both sites of internment and shelters from harm. Cohen demonstrates how the multifunctional women's institutions of the early modern era served as the prototypes for a variety of asylums for women that emerged in later centuries--including hostels, homes for unwed mothers, and battered women's shelters. In a major revision of the historiography of social institutions, Cohen argues that the women's institutions of early modern Europe played a pioneering role in developing techniques and institutional forms in the fields of corrections and social welfare.
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Product details

  • Hardback
  • 164 x 244 x 27mm | 590g
  • Oxford University Press, USA
  • United States
  • English
  • 0195051645
  • 9780195051643

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