Counterfactual obstetrics 6 •• Counterfactual obstetrics: Mary Wollstonecraft’s Frankenstein Damian Walford Davies ‘Obstetrics’: from the Latin for ‘midwife’ – literally, ‘one who stands before/opposite/in the way of’ the woman in childbirth. As both heirs to and active deliverers of Romanticism’s inheritances, we are ourselves in an uncanny parturitive position. Assisting at the iterative, often difficult (re)births of literary texts, we participate in acts of critical midwifery. What follows is a provocation – a performance of a critical heuristic that is
Ever since the publication of Frankenstein, the Gothic has been read as an expression of the fears associated with scientific, technological, and medical advances. This essay argues that obstetrical medicine, from midwifery to obstetrics, is the most Gothic of medical pursuits because of its blurring of boundaries between male and female, natural and supernatural, mechanical and organic, life and death. From subterraneous passages to monstrosity, the professionalization of obstetrics over the course of the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth reads like a Gothic novel. Tracing the parallels between the Gothic aesthetic and several fictional and quasifictional accounts of obstetrical ‘stories’ - from the Warming Pan Scandal of 1688 to the work of Scottish obstetrician William Smellie and man mid-wife William Hunter - this essay demonstrates the Gothic nature of reproductive pursuits.
David Lloyd Roberts MRCS LSA MD FRCP FRS.Edin (1834–1920) was a successful Manchester doctor who made significant contributions to the advancement of gynaecology and obstetrics. His career was closely linked to the Manchester St Mary’s Hospital for Women and Children, 1858–1920. He lectured on midwifery at Owens College and the University of Manchester and was gynaecological surgeon to Manchester Royal Infirmary. He had many interests outside medicine, including a large collection of rare books, paintings and antiques. He produced an edition of Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici (1898) and a paper, The Scientific Knowledge of Dante (1914). He donated his books to the John Rylands Library and the London Royal College of Physician, his paintings to the Manchester Art Gallery, and he left a large endowment to Bangor College, Wales. This article reviews his medical work alongside his legacy to literature, the arts and education.
. Murphy-Graham , E. and Leal , G. ( 2015 ), ‘ Child Marriage, Agency, and Schooling in Rural Honduras ’, Comparative Education Review , 59 : 1 , 24 – 49 . Nasrullah , M. , Zakar , R. and Krämer , A. ( 2013 ), ‘ Effect of Child Marriage on Use of Maternal Health Care Services in Pakistan ’, Obstetrics & Gynecology , 122 : 3 , 517 – 24 . Nour , N. M. ( 2006 ), ‘ Health Consequences of Child Marriage in Africa ’, Emerging Infectious Diseases , 12 : 11 , 1644 – 9 . Oxfam ( 2017 ), South Sudan Gender
the government won’t see the difference if it is us or ICRC providing the surgery and yet we don’t have the permanent ability to address the needs of non-war-wounded patients, such as obstetrics. Indeed, surgical care available to wounded combatants had been considered a trump card to obtain guarantees of respect and protection from the opposition’s leadership, whose soldiers, according to MSF-H’s head of mission
Lucy Cogan suggests that, for Blake, Gothic horror has more to do with putting together than it does taking apart the body. That is, if the experiences of terror and horror central to different forms of the Gothic often involve descriptions of physical torture, in Blake the representation of corporeal distress extends to the process of bodily formation, composition, and birth. Cogan thus reads the physical (de)formation of Urizen in light of William Hunter’s gruesome ‘anatomical obstetrics’, transforming the former into an allegory for Enlightenment scientific methodologies that are more than content to limit sensibility to a ratio of the senses, to murder and then dissect the imagination under the guise of birthing new light. ‘Like a distorted mirror-image of the Enlightenment scientists who used the tools of compass, telescope and microscope to chart the wonders of the universe’, Cogan argues that ‘Urizen by dividing and defining the material universe is also slicing into it, tearing and mutilating the fabric of existence’.
of violence are relatively recent. While birth activist Sheila Kitzinger ( 1992 ) was ahead of her time, writing about birth violations as a form of violence against women nearly three decades ago, it is only over the last two decades or so that feminist scholars have made more explicit efforts to define, conceptualise, and theorise birth violence (Chadwick, 2017, 2018 ; Pickles, 2015 ; Pickles and Herring, 2019 ; Shabot, 2016, 2018 ; Wolf, 2013 ). Abusive practices during birth were reported in American obstetrics from the late 1950s (Goer, 2010 ). In 1958
The book explores the relationship between violence against women on one hand, and the rights to health and reproductive health on the other. It argues that violation of the right to health is a consequence of violence, and that (state) health policies might be a cause of – or create the conditions for – violence against women. It significantly contributes to feminist and international human rights legal scholarship by conceptualising a new ground-breaking idea, violence against women’s health (VAWH), using the Hippocratic paradigm as the backbone of the analysis. The two dimensions of violence at the core of the book – the horizontal, ‘interpersonal’ dimension and the vertical ‘state policies’ dimension – are investigated through around 70 decisions of domestic, regional and international judicial or quasi-judicial bodies (the anamnesis). The concept of VAWH, drawn from the anamnesis, enriches the traditional concept of violence against women with a human rights-based approach to autonomy and a reflection on the pervasiveness of patterns of discrimination (diagnosis). VAWH as theorised in the book allows the reconceptualisation of states’ obligations in an innovative way, by identifying for both dimensions obligations of result, due diligence obligations, and obligations to progressively take steps (treatment). The book eventually asks whether it is not international law itself that is the ultimate cause of VAWH (prognosis).
drama, tend to take place off stage with the usual commonplace references to labour pains as a matter of convention. Discourses that placed the mother in relation to her husband and children tended to bring together practical knowledge, ideology and myth. Conventional obstetrics confirmed that the married mother was incubator of her husband’s children, facilitating the development of his seed (her genetic contribution not being properly
Just another day in a labour ward in rural India On a pleasant December morning a few years ago, my colleague, an obstetrician, and I, an anthropologist, visited a busy teaching hospital in a disadvantaged district in south India. 1 The hospital is located more than 200 kilometres away from the nearest metropolitan city. It is a 750-bed tertiary facility with 10 beds allocated to obstetrics and gynaecology, which also handles complicated referrals. Our plan was to interview