By Lisa Forman Cody
How may well the pro triumph of man-midwifery and modern stories of pregnant males, rabbit-breeding moms, and meddling midwives in eighteenth-century Britain aid build the emergence of contemporary company and person identities? by means of uncovering long-lost stories and artefacts approximately sexuality, beginning, and pop culture, Lisa Forman Cody argues that Enlightenment Britons understood themselves and their dating to others via their stories and ideology concerning the reproductive physique. Birthing the country lines intertwined narratives that formed eighteenth-century British lifestyles: the advance of the fashionable British state, and the emergence of the male specialist because the pre-eminent authority over issues of sexual behaviour, replica, and childbirth. by means of taking heavily modern caricatures, jokes, and rumours that used gender, delivery, and family members to make claims approximately spiritual, ethnic and nationwide identification, Cody illuminates a wholly new view of the eighteenth-century public sphere as concerned with the physically and the bizarre.In a monarchy arbitrated by way of its authentic faith, rules of replica and childbirth used to be important to the very balance of British political authority and the coherence of British tradition, challenged because it was once via Catholicism, the French Revolution, and social switch. within the overdue 17th century, the English feared the ability of lady midwives to regulate the future of the royal relations, but men-midwives and male specialists had not often proved their superiority to control the winning start of kids. via the mid-eighteenth century, besides the fact that, male midwives turned specialists over the household international of being pregnant and childbirth, principally exchanging girl midwives one of the middling and elite households. Cody means that those new execs supplied a brand new version for masculine comportment and emergent intimate relationships in the middle-class and elite home.Most unusually, Cody has chanced on many interconnections among obstetrics and politics, and indicates how male specialists remodeled what had as soon as been the non-public, female area of delivery and midwifery into subject matters of public value and common curiosity, major even Adam Smith and Edmund Burke to wait lectures on obstetrical anatomy. this is often the 1st booklet to put the eighteenth-century shift from lady midwives to male midwives because the dominant specialists over childbirth in a bigger cultural and political context. Cody illuminates how eighteenth-century Britons understood and symbolized political, nationwide, and spiritual association during the reviews of the physique, intercourse, and start. In flip, she takes heavily how the political arguments and rhetoric of the age weren't continually made on disembodied, rational phrases, yet as an alternative referenced deep cultural ideals approximately gender, replica, and the kinfolk.
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Additional info for Birthing the Nation: Sex, Science, and the Conception of Eighteenth-Century Britons
I (Chicago, ). ³⁰ John Dryden, The Husband his Own Cuckold (). For the positive view of the man-midwife in the household, see for example the serialized ‘A Sentimental Journey through Life’, which imitated Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, but turned the female midwives into buffoons and lauded the menmidwives, and the serialized ‘The Physician of the Soul’, both of which ran in the Sentimental Magazine, –. There was also, inversely, a popular anti-obstetrical literature condemning the man-midwife’s intimate household presence, but as Roy Porter argued, this critical literature registers the pervasiveness of the man-midwife’s role as conﬁdant; Porter, ‘A Touch of Danger’.
As an ethereal ⁵¹ On popular prints more broadly, which were the most common visual forms that nearly all urban Britons would encounter, see Diana Donald, The Age of Caricature: Satirical Prints in the Reign of George III (New Haven, ); Ronald Paulson, Hogarth, vols. (New Brunswick, NJ, –); John Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century (New York, ). A. Benoist, after Joseph Highmore, Pamela Reading Nursery Rhymes. . In the background above the hearth, a Renaissance painting of a mother and angelic children hangs over a mirror, presumably reﬂecting Pamela and her children.
Science, sex, and reproduction I have so far argued against the historical grain, claiming that men-midwives succeeded because they helped shape a new gender system that actually viewed the sexes as akin in fundamental emotional and human ways. But men-midwives and men of science also succeeded in conquering the reproductive body by simultaneously asserting their rational distance and difference from the reproductive objects that they studied. ³¹ Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall, Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, – (Chicago, ); for the criticisms of the concept, see Amanda J.