Dorothea Erxleben: Eighteenth-Century Role Model for Today's Working Parent

Bolter, Christina
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
I first became acquainted with Dorothea Erxleben in the fall of 2001 through a graduate seminar at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa. The theme of the seminar, taught by Dr. Jiirgen Sang, was female authors of eighteenth-century Germany. All the women presented throughout the semester were outstanding figures, overcoming great societal pressure to remain in restrictive traditional female roles. Sophie von La Roche, Marianne Ehrmann, Luise Adelgunde Gottsched, Charlotte Henriette Hezel, Ernestine Hoffman, Emilie Berlepsch, and Fredericke Helene Unger, to name a few, were authors, editors, publishers, and exemplary public figures in the peaceful struggle for women's rights. Dorothea Erxleben stood out among them in the extent of her accomplishments. In an era when women were expected to remain in the traditional roles of wife, mother, and housekeeper, she studied medicine, was published at the age of twenty-four, supported her family by running a medical practice, and earned a doctorate while raising a family of nine! She managed to fulfill effectively customary female roles while sustaining not just any career, but one of the most challenging: medicine. This ignited my interest and prompted deeper investigation into her history.
v, 104 leaves
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