Forget Leaving Room for Jesus: Fornication and Community Control in Transitional New England

The Perceptions of Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the earliest times to the present day. This month, Frances Norman, a final year undergraduate student at the University of Hertfordshire, shares some insights into pre-marital sexual behaviour and pregnancy in the Atlantic world.

In July 1791 Sally Peirce ‘Swore a Child’ on Jonathon Ballard, the son of Martha Ballard, an eighteenth-century New England midwife who recorded her life across almost 10,000 diary entries. [1] Sally’s child was born in October of the same year and she and Jonathon married in January 1792. The eighteenth-century was a transitional period for sexual control across America and within New England, which was more sexually restrictive than urban areas of the country. [2] Sally’s pregnancy offers insight into premarital sexual relationships, as well as the role of community and familial control in courtship, pre-marital relationships, and the wider policing of sexuality.

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Reproduction on Film

Reproduction on Film: Sex, Secrets and Lies

Sexual secrets are powerful social capital, long subject to suppression, cover up, rumour, manipulation, investigation and exposure. In all the films in this fifth series of ‘Reproduction on Film’, lies, deceptions and conspiracies are exposed with life-changing consequences for individuals, groups or whole societies. Put on by the Generation to Reproduction programme with funding from the Wellcome Trust.

3 February – 20 March 2016, at the Main Lecture Theatre, Old Divinity School, St Johns Street, Cambridge. All screenings at 7pm. All welcome. Admission free.

Series devised by Jesse Olszynko-Gryn (

posterWednesday, 3 February: Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg)

Introduced and with discussion led by Isabelle McNeill (Trinity Hall, Cambridge)

Director: Jacques Demy. Starring: Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo. France/West Germany 1964. 91 mins.

An astonishingly beautiful and unusually operatic product of the French New Wave, Jacques Demy’s sung-through musical romance made Catherine Deneuve a star. It tells a bittersweet story of lovers separated by war, illegitimate pregnancy, and the social and economic pressures to marry, though not necessarily the one you love.

Co-presented by Alliance Française Cambridge. Free admission.

Wednesday, 10 February: Secrets and Lies

Introduced and with discussion led by Anandi Ramamurthy (Sheffield Hallam University)

Director: Mike Leigh. Starring: Brenda Blethyn and Marianne Jean-Baptiste. UK 1996. 142 mins.

 Leigh’s emotionally rich social observation documents the subtleties of the relationships in a dysfunctional family as its members’ secrets are revealed. After her adoptive parents die, an upwardly mobile, young black optometrist looks for her birth mother and discovers her to be working class and white.


Policing Pregnancy: a One-Day Conference on Maternal Autonomy, Risk and Responsibility

The Policing Pregnancy conference is a collaboration between British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), Birthrights and the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, and will explore the provision of behavioural advice and care to pregnant women. The event is of interest to practitioners, advocates, academics, policy makers, journalists – and anyone else who is concerned about the expansion of risk thinking and its effects for the autonomy and choice-making ability of women. Continue reading

Pregnancy, Childbearing, and Infant Care: Historical Perspectives from Slave and Non-Slave Societies

Pregnancy, Childbearing, and Infant Care: Historical Perspectives from Slave and Non-Slave Societies

8-9 April 2015

Newcastle University, Armstrong Building 2.50

We are delighted to announce that Newcastle University is hosting this conference as the first of three international symposia that form the foundation of the AHRC Research Network ‘Mothering Slaves: Comparative Perspectives on Motherhood, Childlessness, and the Care of Children in Atlantic Slave Societies.’

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Improving maternal health on a global scale, 5 March 2015

Improving maternal health on a global scale: A historic perspective on the work of WHO and partners

Date: Thursday 5 March 2015
Time: 12:45 pm – 2:00 pm
Venue: Lucas Room, LSHTM, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT, UK
Type of event: Seminar
Speaker(s): Julianne Weis, University of Oxford, Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine

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Reproduction on Film

Reproduction on Film: Outlaws

4 February – 11 March 2015

Film poster for 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'What do a human fly, alien pod people and talking apes from the future all have in common? They are just some of the transgressively reproductive heroes, antiheroes and villains – at the margins of society and outside the law – featured in the fourth series of ‘Reproduction on Film’, put on by the Generation to Reproduction programme with funding from the Wellcome Trust.

Wednesdays 4 February – 11 March 2015, at the Umney Theatre, Robinson College, and St Philip’s Church Centre, Mill Road. All screenings at 7pm, venue alternates weekly.

Free admission. All welcome.

Series devised by Jesse Olszynko-Gryn (

The full programme can be found here along with booking information

Ms/Representations: mass media and feminisms in historical context

University of Westminster, Saturday 29 November 2014.

On Saturday 29 November the Department of Social & Historical Studies at the University of Westminster and the Society for the History of Women in the Americas (SHAW) will co-host the conference ‘Ms/Representation: mass media and feminisms in historical context’. Please email for more information and to book for the event.