Vernacular Bodies: The Politics of Reproduction in Early Modern England

Paperback | November 9, 2006

byMary E. Fissell

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Making babies was a mysterious process in early modern England. Mary Fissell employs a wealth of popular sources - ballads, jokes, witchcraft pamphlets, Prayer Books, popular medical manuals - to produce the first account of women's reproductive bodies in early-modern cheap print. Since littlewas certain about the mysteries of reproduction, the topic lent itself to a rich array of theories. The insides of women's reproductive bodies provided a kind of open interpretive space, a place where many different models of reproductive processes might be plausible. These models were profoundlyshaped by cultural concerns; they afforded many ways to discuss and make sense of social, political, and economic changes such as the Protestant Reformation and the Civil War. They gave ordinary people ways of thinking about the changing relations between men and women that characterized theselarger social shifts. Fissell offers a new way to think about the history of the body by focusing on women's bodies, showing how ideas about conception, pregnancy, and childbirth were also ways of talking about gender relations and thus all relations of power. Where other histories of the body have focused on learnedtexts and male bodies, this study looks at the small books and pamphlets that ordinary people read and listened to - and provides new ways to understand how such people experienced political conflicts and social change.

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Making babies was a mysterious process in early modern England. Mary Fissell employs a wealth of popular sources - ballads, jokes, witchcraft pamphlets, Prayer Books, popular medical manuals - to produce the first account of women's reproductive bodies in early-modern cheap print. Since littlewas certain about the mysteries of reproduc...

Mary E. Fissell is an Associate Professor in the History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University.

other books by Mary E. Fissell

Format:PaperbackDimensions:296 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.55 inPublished:November 9, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199202702

ISBN - 13:9780199202706

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Table of Contents

1. Reforming the Body2. The Womb Goes Bad3. Protesting and Preaching4. Henry Jessy, Sarah Wight, and the Struggle to Make Women's Bodies into Knowledge5. Culpeper's Radical Book6. Reforming the Family and Refiguring the Body in the English Revolution7. The Restoration Crisis in PaternityConclusionBibliography