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Literature CfPs for RSA 2019 Toronto
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Contested Bodies: Pregnancy and Motherhood in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period

Posted By David Reher, Monday, July 23, 2018
Updated: Monday, July 23, 2018

In light of the recent resurgence of the debate over women’s reproductive rights, our panel seeks to explore women’s bodies and pregnancy as a contested locus of various and often shifting socio-political events, and a battleground for negotiating sexual agency in the late Medieval and Early Modern world.

While the phenomenon of pregnancy has been studied as a historical concept, its treatment in literature still warrants further attention, as Sara L. Read’s Pregnant women gaze at the precious things their souls are set on shows. This is evident in numerous sources: medieval treatment of pregnancy in female hagiographies; the theme of unwanted pregnancies in texts such as Cervantes’s La fuerza de la sangre or truncated genealogies in María de Zayas Mal presagio casar lejos; the pregnant Helena of Shakespeare’s Measure for measure; male pregnancies like in entremes El parto de Juan Rana, and monstrous or grotesque births as seen in Rabelais’ Pantagruel and Gargantua.

Possible panel themes include:
Unwanted pregnancies and birth control
Medieval understandings of reproduction and reproductive medicine
Male pregnancies and sex changes
Signs of virginity, or fake virginities
Pregnancy as a literary metaphor for creation
Negotiations and gaps between marriage and sex, (virgin martyrs, proofs of paternity, etc)
Images of pregnant Mary or the absence of signs of maternity 
Midwives and gynecologist, including the mythological Agnodice, the first woman gynecologist

Please send an abstract of no more than 150 words, up to 4 keywords, and a one page CV (under 300 words) to to dmreher@uchicago.edu and alm2164@columbia.edu by July 29th

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