The Phantoms of Pregnancy

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 medieval to the modern. Today’s post is contributed by Owen Davies who writes on the associations between pregnancy and ghosts.

From the ancient world to the present, societies across the globe have been concerned that problems in childbirth were a potential source of malevolent ghosts. People who died prematurely or tragically were thought to leave restless spirits that could harass, torment or spread illnesses amongst the living. It is no surprise, then, that women who died during pregnancy or childbirth formed one such vengeful group. Known in ancient Mesopotamia as the lilitu, they preyed on pregnant women.[1] The cause of such childbirth complications was itself considered an act of divine supernatural vengeance. It was recorded of the hag-goddess Lamashtu that:

She touches the bellies of women in labour,

She yanks out the pregnant woman’s baby.[2]

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Mothers, Motherhood, and Mothering in Popular Culture

WHO: Southwest Popular/American Culture Association (SWPACA)
WHERE: Albuquerque, New Mexico
WHEN: 10-13 February 2016
DEADLINE: 1 November 2015

Proposals are now being accepted for the conference’s newly established subject area, Mothers, Motherhood, and Mothering in Popular Culture.

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Kate Middleton, Royal Baby #2 and our Preoccupation with the Pregnant Form

In our latest review, Leah Phillips has been looking at media coverage of the announcement that Britain’s Prince William and Kate are expecting their second child, and asks, what does this reveal about society’s attitude towards the pregnant body?

“Breaking News: Woman is Expecting a Baby”

This was how the Huffington Post UK reported the news that the Duchess of Cambridge, better known as Kate, is expecting her second child.[1] Over the course of the next several months, Kate, will be reduced to our fascination with her clothes, changes in hairstyle and – most importantly – that growing bump. She will become (is becoming) Kate Middleton: walking-womb. Thus, while I truly appreciate HuffPost UK’s gentle mockery of itself (and media outlets the world over), the mockery only serves to indicate just how much this pregnancy is not (or will not be) normal, even by the (abnormal) standards of pregnancy. Kate’s pregnancy – and our growing concern with her growing bump – serves to mark a peculiar preoccupation with the pregnant form.

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Motherhood/Fatherhood and Popular Culture, PCA/ACA conference, LA, 1-4 April 2015

What? Popular Culture Association/American Cultural Association (PCA/ACA) national conference, which includes a strand on Motherhood/Fatherhood and Popular Culture.

When? 1-4 April 2015

Where? The New Orleans Marriott, New Orleans, LA, USA

Deadline for submissions? 1 November 2014

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