Perceptions of Pregnancy: Provisional Conference Programme



Please note, the programme is subject to change. For further details, visit the conference blog or email conference organisers: Ciara Meehan, c.meehan2[at] or Jennifer Evans j.evans5[at]


Day 1

9:00- 9:30: Registration

9:30-11:00: Session One

Panel A

Male discourses of contraception, pregnancy and fatherhood
Chris Orchard (Indiana State University)’Masculine appropriations: the gendered discourse of pregnancy and childbirth in Early Modern England’
Katarzyna Bronk (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland) ‘”Both arms full of children”: William Cobbett’s lessons on parenthood, motherhood and maternity’
Ben Mechen (UCL) ‘”Bringing you closer together”: Durex condoms, men and contraception in 1970s Britain’

Panel B

Religion, Pregnancy and Birth
Shaima Hassan (Liverpool John Moores University) ‘A longitudinal study exploring Muslim Women’s Transition to Motherhood within the NHS’
Magdalena Ohaja (Trinity College Dublin) ‘Co-existing belief systems of pregnancy and birth in South-eastern Nigeria and their influence on women’s health-seeking behaviour’
Ailish Veale (Trinity College Dublin) ‘For it is by example above all that the nuns influence these girls’: Contradictions and Tensions in 20th Century Catholic Missionary Maternities

 11:00-11:15: Coffee

11:15-12:45: Session Two

Panel A

Perceptions of the female body in Literature
Abigail Boucher (University of Glasgow) ‘The Monk and the Menopause’
Olivia Gunn (Pacific Lutheran University) ‘Babies, Artworks, Executioners: Bourgeois Perceptions of Pregnancy in Ibsen and Sandel’
Francesca Chiappini (University of Milan) ‘“I shall die this time”: Motherhood as sin in Djuna Barnes’ Ryder’

Panel B

Infertility in medieval and early modern England (Chair Jennifer Evans, University of Hertfordshire)
Catherine Rider (University of Exeter) ‘Defining and Perceiving in Medieval England’
Amanda Capern (University of Hull) and Judith Spicksley (University of York) ‘”The most severe Affliction that can attend a Family”: infertility and its consequences for perceptions of the female body, 1650-1750’
Sarah Toulalan (University of Exeter) – tbc

 12:45- 1:45: Lunch

1:45-3:15: Session Three

Panel A

Pregnancy Loss and Miscarriage
Jennifer Evans (University of Hertfordshire) ‘“before midnight she had miscarried”: Women, Men and Miscarriage in early modern England’
Sara Read (Loughborough University) ‘“I did not think I had bine with childe”: Perceptions of Miscarriage and God’s Will’
Ortal Slobodin (Duivendrecht, The Netherlands) ‘The aborted time: a temporal view on the trauma of pregnancy loss’.

Panel B

Medical Developments and Frameworks
Laura Neff (Royal Holloway) ‘The Surgical Exploration of Maternal Medicine 1860-1890’
Olivia Ekman (Umeå University Sweden) ‘Preventing the Unexpected: The Role of Eclampsia in the Formation of Prophylactic Care in the 20th Century’
Małgorzata Stach (Trinity College Dublin) ‘The technological imperative as a continuing preoccupation in relation to childbirth’

 3:15-3:30: Coffee

3:30- 5:00: Plenary 1

5pm: Exhibition by Liz Burns from The Burns Archive, New York on Victorian Post-mortem Infant Photography

Wine Reception

 Day 2

9:30-11:00: Session One

Panel A

Early Modern Pregnancy and Childbirth
Anna Andreeva (University of Heidelberg) ‘Pregnancy and childbirth in early and medieval Japan’
Anna French (University of Birmingham) ‘The godly counsaile of a gentle-woman’: fear, pregnancy and early motherhood in Reformation England’.
Sanner Garofalo (University of Birmingham) ‘”Feminine Vilification and the Politics of the Birthing Chamber on the Seventeenth-Century English Stage’

Panel B

Infanticide and Neonaticide
Julia Allison (Independent Scholar) ‘Illegal pregnancy in Tudor, Rural East Anglia: Perception, Consequences and Outcomes’
Silvia Chiletti (Max Planck Institute) ‘Ignored Pregnancies: Dissimulations, Doubts and Errors in Medical and Medico-legal Knowledge about Pregnancy in 19th century France’
Sylvia Murphy Tighe (Trinity College Dublin) and Joan Lalor (Trinity College Dublin) ‘Concealed pregnancy and Neonaticide: A changing knowledge base.’

11:00-11:15: Coffee

11:15- 12:45: Session Two

Panel A

Visualising Pregnancy and the Unborn Child
Sarah Griffin (Independent Scholar)  ‘The Anatomy of Creation: A Thirteenth-Century Schematic Uterus Diagram of MS Ashmole 399 in the Bodlian Library, Oxford’
Leah Astbury (University of Cambridge) ‘”For all children are not bred alike”: Visualising the unborn child in seventeenth-century England’
Lucy van de Wiel (Univeristy of Amsterdam) ‘Ageing in the Egg: A Visual Analysis of Time-lapse Embryo Imaging’

Panel B

Pain, Pregnancy and Childbirth
Paula Michaels, (Monash University) ‘”Primitive” Childbirth and “Natural” Childbirth: Race and Class in Twentieth-Century discourse on Childbirth Pain
Whitney Wood (Wilfrid Laurier University) ‘”Bound to be a troublesome time”: Anxieties surrounding Pregnancy, Parturition and Pain in English Canada, 1860-1920’
Gwenith Siobhan Cross (Wilfrid Laurier University)’ “a Great help to all mothers”: The efficacy and availability of analgesics in the 1940s’

 12:45-1:45: Lunch

1:45-3:45: Session Three

Panel A

Access to Hospitals and care
Megan Webber (University of Hertfordshire) ‘“Impatient of Controul”: The Beneficiaries of London’s Outpatient Lying-in Charities, c. 1800-1834.’
Philomena Gorey (University College Dublin) ‘Mothers and their Midwives: The Development of Maternity Care in Irish Dispensaries 1852-1898’
George Campbell Gosling (University of Liverpool) ‘The Pregnant Patient-consumer in Interwar England’
Ewelina Szpak, ‘Pregnancy and motherhood in Poland after World War II 1945 – 1960’

Panel B

Abortion (Chair Claire McGing NUIM)
Fran Bigman (University of Cambridge) ‘A Bit of Himself: British Male-authored Abortion Narratives from Waste to Alfie
Laura Kelly (University College Dublin) ‘The invisible export: Irish Women’s Abortion Narratives, c.1970s –present’
Hannah Charnock (University of Exeter)  ‘”This Haunting Sadness”: Defending abortion in the British News-media, 1979-1985’
Ciara Meehan (University of Hertfordshire) Perceptions of Abortion in 20th century Ireland.

 3:45-4:00: Coffee

4:00-5:30: Session Four

Panel A

Contested Relationships: age, seduction and rape (Chair Whitney Wood, Wilfrid Laurier University)
Victoria Bates (Bristol University) ‘”Early Ripe, Early Rotten”: Precocious Pregnancy in Victorian and Edwardian England’
Jillian Slaight (University of Wisconsin-Madison) ‘”Despite her Resistance and Screams”: Narratives of Seduction in Eighteenth-century France’
Justin Dolan Stover (Idaho State University) ‘Pregnancy, Parenthood and the Irish Revolution: Violence and Vulnerability, 1916-1923′

Panel B

Pregnancy and the Pregnant Body in the 18th/ 19th Centuries
Anna Niiranen (University of Jyväskylä, Finland) ‘The Concept of Natural Pregnancy in Victorian Guide Book Literature for the use of women, 1830-1902)
Emily Blewitt (Cardiff University) ‘Percy Shelley’s Labouring Reader and Mary Shelley’s other mothers: rereading Frankenstein’

 5:30-6:30: Plenary 2

7:00 Conference Dinner


 Day 3

10:00-11:30: Session One

Panel A

Expectations of and Limits on Mothers
Chelsea Phillips (Ohio State University) ‘Carrying All Before Her: Pregnancy, Repertory, and Reputation in the Career of Sarah Siddons (1755-1831)
Claire McGing (NUIM) and Fiona Buckley (University College Cork) ‘Gendered Institutionalism: Reconceptualising the Irish Parliament to facilitate parenting.’
Sarah Crook (QMUL) ‘Mothers are people who are reasonable for half the time: Mental Health and Feminism in Late Twentieth Century Britain’

Panel B

From Pill to Birth in the modern era.
Natasha Szuhan (University of Melbourne) ‘Health And Dis-Ease on the Pill: How did the Concept of Normalcy Impact the Early Debates About Side Effects?’
María Jesús Santesmases (Instituto de Filosofía) ‘Chromosomes, prenatal diagnosis, and the reconfiguration of pregnancy: Cytogenetics in Madrid, 1962-1975’
Anija Dokter (University of Cambridge) ‘The Sounds of Childbirth: Perceptions and Imagineries in the Digital Age’

 11:30-1:00: Exhibition by Ellen Dupont on images of pregnancy


 1:00-2:00: Session Two

Portraiture and Dress
Karen Hearn (UCL) ‘Representing Pregnancy in Van Dyke’s British Portraits’ 
Emma O’Toole (National College of Art & Design, Dublin) ‘Tight Stays & Compressed Waists: Dressing the Expectant Mother in the Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Centuries’

2:00-3:30: Session Three

Folklore, Beliefs and Traditions
Ceri Houlbrook (University of Manchester) ‘ Fairies, Trolls and Changelings: What to expect when you’re expecting’
Tatiana Novikova () ‘Hushaby, quickly die’
Martina Hynan (University College Dublin) ‘Birth Rites and Rituals in Ireland: A Visual Cultural Reading of Sheela-na-gig,  St. Brigid and St. Gobnait’

3:30-3:45: Concluding Remarks

Published by Dr Ciara Meehan

Reader in History at the University of Hertfordshire.

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