Cathy McClive

Professor of History
Cathy McClive

Contact Information

Ben Weider Professor in Revolutionary Studies

I specialize in the social and cultural history of medicine, embodiment, gender, sexualities and expertise in early modern France. My first monograph Menstruation and Procreation in Early Modern France (Ashgate, 2015) argues that early modern menstruating bodies were not stable signifiers. It questions our assumptions about the gendering of menstruation in the past and explores the complexities of early modern understandings of the relationship between menstruation, menstrual blood and reproduction. This work was described by a reviewer as a ‘highly original and important book’ and an ‘excellent corrective to… the work of Laqueur’ on structural sexual differences.

My article, 'Masculinity on Trial', published in History Workshop Journal in 2009, which argues that the male body could be just as uncertain and opaque as the more frequently-studied female body, is one of fourteen articles, chosen from the journal's archives over forty years, currently available free online (until January 2016) in a new virtual issue celebrating Gender and Early Modern Histories edited by Laura Gowing.

I am currently working on three new major research projects. The first, which developed out of research undertaken during a junior EURIAS fellowship at the Collegium de Lyon in 2011-2012, is a microhistorical analysis of the Lyonnais Cause Célèbre of 1767, the disappearance of Claudine Rouge. The Rouge affair will act as a window into the structures, practice and everyday application of legal medicine (or medical expertise) in eighteenth-century France as well as a vehicle for exploring the development of microhistorical methodologies. As part of this project I am currently exploring tensions between venality and expertise in French legal medicine. Further archival research has been supported by a mobility grant from the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (2016) and a BA/Leverhulme Small Grant SG161958 (2016-2017).

The second project is a critical edition of an unpublished seventeenth-century French midwifery text written in the form of a letter on ‘the art of delivery’ by mistress midwife at the Hotel-Dieu of Clermont-Ferrand, Mme Baudoin, to Parisian society physician Dr Vallant ,'Marie Baudoin, Epistolary Midwifery: Letter to Dr. Vallant on the Art of Childbirth (1671). A Bilingual Edition', to be published in the Other Voice in Early Modern Europe series.

The third is a body-centred analysis of the scandal between stigmatic apprentice nun Catherine Cadiere and her predatory confessor Jesuit priest Jean-Bpatiste Girard which led to a celebrated trail for imposture, spiritual incest and enchantment in 1730s Provence. This is tentatively titled: Catherine Cadiere's Body: Stigmata on Trial in Eighteenth-Century France.

I am also interested in the gendering of interpersonal violence and attitudes towards infant-feeding, particularly the help and advice available to breast-feeding mothers and issues surrounding tongue tie in early modern France.


Teaching Areas:

France in the Age of Revolution, 1715-1795

Eighteenth-Century France: Sex, Gender and Revolution

The Disappearance of Claudine Rouge: Murder, Mystery and Microhistory in Eighteenth-Century France

Questions of Scale: From Microhistories to Global Histories

Early Modern Bodies



Authored Book

  • 2015 Menstruation and Procreation in Early Modern France, Ashgate.

Chapter in Book

  • 2015 'La tournée de Michel-Anne Drouart, ou apprendre à être un hermaphrodite', in Gonzalez Bernaldo, Pilar & Hilaire-Perez, Liliane (eds.), Mobilités et circulation des savoirs, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, pp. 89-97
  • 2012 'L’affaire de Claudine Rouge Une Cause Célèbre Médico-Légale à Lyon (1767)', in Privat-Savigny, Maria-Anne (ed.), Lyon au XVIIIe: Un siècle surprenant, Musees Gadagne, pp. 293-295.
  • 2010 'Quand les fleurs s’arrêtent: La ménopause et l’imaginaire médical aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles', in McClive, Cathy & Pellegrin, Nicole (eds.), Femmes en fleurs, femmes en corps: sang, santé et sexualités du moyen âge aux lumières, Presses Universitaires de Saint-Etienne, pp. 277-299
  • 2007 'L’âge des fleurs: le passage de l’enfance à l’adolescence dans l’imaginaire médical du XVIIe siècle', in Anne DeFrance, Denis Lopez & François-Joseph Ruggiu (eds.), Regards sur l’enfance au XVIIe siècle, Gunter Narr, pp. 171-185
  • 2007 (co-authored with Helen King) 'When is a foetus not a foetus?: diagnosing dalse conceptions in early modern France', in Veronique Dasen (ed.), L’embryon humain à travers l’histoire, Infolio, pp. 223-238
  • 2005 'Engendrer durant les menstrues: devoir conjugal et interdit sexuel à l'époque moderne', in Redon, O., Sallmann, L. & Steinberg, S. (eds.), Le Désir et le Goût: Une autre Histoire (XIIIe-XVIIIe siècles), Presses Universitaires de Vincennes, pp. 245-263
  • 2005 'Menstrual knowledge and medical practice in France, c. 1555-1761', in Gillian Howie & Andrew Shail (eds.), Menstruation: A Cultural History, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 76-89

Edited Book

  • 2010 (co-edited with Pellegrin, Nicole) Femmes en fleurs, femmes en corps: sang, santé, sexualités du moyen âge aux lumières, Presses Universitaires de Saint-Etienne.

Journal Article

  • 2013 'Engendrer le tabou. L’interprétation du lévitique 15, 18-19 et 20-18 et de la menstruation sous l’ancien régime', Annales de demographie historique 125, pp. 165-210
  • 2012 '“Witnessing of the Hands” and Eyes: Surgeons as Medico-Legal Experts in the Claudine Rouge affair, Lyon, 1767', Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 35, pp. 489-503
  • 2009 'Masculinity on Trial: Penises, Hermaphrodites and the Uncertain Male Body in Early Modern France', History Workshop Journal 68, pp. 45-68
  • 2008 'Blood and Expertise: The Trials of the Female Medical Expert in the Ancien Regime Courtroom', Bulletin of the History of Medicine 82, pp. 86-108
  • 2008 'Gender and the Body in Medical Writings c. 1700-1830', Defining Gender, 1450-1910 pp.
  • 2002 'The hidden truths of the belly: the uncertainties of pregnancy in early modern Europe', Social History of Medicine 15, pp. 209-227

Research Interests

Early Modern France, History of Medicine, Gender, Expertise, and the French Revolution


The Art of Childbirth: A Seventeenth-Century Midwife's Epistolary Treatise to Doctor Vallant: A Bilingual Edition Volume 98

The extraordinary story of a seventeenth-century French midwife and her treatise on childbirth.

Menstruation and Procreation in Early Modern France

Early modern bodies, particularly menstruating and pregnant bodies, were not stable signifiers.