Managing maternity: Reproduction and the literary imagination in the eighteenth century

Blackwood, Ashleigh (2017) Managing maternity: Reproduction and the literary imagination in the eighteenth century. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

This thesis demonstrates how literary and medical authors explored changing concepts of childbirth and reproductive medicine between the years 1737 and 1798. Considerable changes took place during this period that transformed birth from a social rite of passage into a medical event. Questions such as who and what was involved in reproduction, how childbirth was managed by individuals and communities, as well as how common understanding about these matters were reached, were brought to the fore in a way that they had never before been raised. A key means by which these ideas were communicated was through the rapidly developing print market with its overlapping interests in literature and medicine. Scholarship of medical humanities and medical history has grown exponentially in the last few decades, including that relating to the history of midwifery and the professionalization of what would become obstetric discourse, yet no study has brought together the theme of reproduction with trends in medical and literary publishing directly. The methodology employed here favours neither the literary nor historical, nor the feminist over the biographical, but rather brings these approaches together, drawing on medical theory of the period, trends in publishing, the rise of both women’s writing and the novel, as the texts considered require. The thesis widens the source pool consulted for purposes of developing a detailed understanding of the history of reproductive medicine. In doing so, the materials analysed reveal that both lay and professional authors found a range of creative ways of relating to changes in the medical management of pregnancy and childbirth, using personal stories and broader medical information, some of this illicit.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
Q300 English studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2018 13:42
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2019 08:07
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/36273

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