NEW BOOK on the history of pregnancy

evans-and-meehan-2016The new year sees the publication of a new book from Palgrave Macmillan in their Genders and Sexualities in History series – a collection of essays on the history of pregnancy. Jennifer Evans and Ciara Meehan have edited the volume, comprising chapters that began as papers at the Perceptions of Pregnancy conference they organised at the University of Hertfordshire nearly two years ago, and is the largest collaborative output so far from the Perceptions of Pregnancy research network that was formed following the conference.

As series editors (John H Arnold, Joanna Bourke and Sean Brady) write in their preface, the book explores…

“the extraordinary shifts in the way people have thought about pregnancy over the past 400 years. Some of the chapters explore the way pregnancy has been represented in literary texts, while others address the vulnerabilities, fears, and desires of pregnant women themselves. While paying attention to the medical discourses about pregnancy, this volume is more focused on the history of emotions, the changing ways women have communicated their ideas about pregnancy, and the crucial role of prospective parents (both mothers and fathers) as consumers.”

Those questions of consumer roles is central to my own chapter in this collection, which asks what it meant to pay the maternity hospital in early twentieth-century England, focusing on the cities of Bristol, Liverpool and London. Consumer power, it suggests, was limited and secondary to long-established and over-riding class and moral codes.

You can read an extract of my chapter here or…

Order a copy at the Palgrave website

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