Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 8125
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): L'Estrange , Elizabeth.
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  • Title: Incarnations and Confinements: the (in)visibility of childbirth in some late-medieval sources
  • Source: Seeing Gender: Perspectives on Medieval Gender and Sexuality. Gender and Medieval Studies Conference, King's College, London, January 4-6, 2002.. 2002.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Conference Paper Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Art History- Decorative Arts Art History- Painting Childbirth in Art
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  • Abstract: In this paper I will explore the degree to which elements of late-medieval childbirth are both revealed and concealed by the evidence available for the study of important event. The sources which have come down to us – pictorial, literary, medical – offer a privileged, but limited, access to this aspect of women’s lives. On one level they suggest that the space of childbearing was solely the preserve of women; on another, they problematise the very idea of a women’s space. In particular I will focus on depictions of nativities in manuscripts, on birth wares and in panel paintings. How might the context of the image and the purpose behind its production affect or influence images of childbirth and women’s space? A confinement scene set in a comfortable interior where women attend the new mother, food is plentiful and the child healthy, may have served several purposes – social, dynastic, religious – for both men and women. The extent to which we are able to apply twentieth-first-century notions of ‘gender’ and ‘viewing’ to medieval representations might also depend on how secular childbearing, as well as biblical incarnations, were seen and interpreted by the medieval creators and consumers of these images. [Reproduced by permission of the Gender and Medieval Studies Conference Organizers].
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Leeds
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2002.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: Not Available
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