Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Picturing pregnancy : a history of the early modern birth figure
Author: Whiteley, Rebecca Kate
ISNI:       0000 0004 7429 2368
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
This thesis provides a history of early modern birth figures: images of the fetus in the disembodied uterus, printed in midwifery and surgical books, which describe the variety of fetal presentations. While these images have accompanied midwifery and gynaecological texts from before the invention of print in Europe, and up to the present day, they have been widely ignored or under-valued by historians and art historians. This thesis analyses printed birth figures produced in England and other western European countries between 1540 and 1774, and argues that they are a crucial and unique resource for understanding the visual culture, midwifery history and body culture of the period. Employing methodologies from social and medical history, material studies and art history, I address the different ways in which these images represented and shaped understandings of the body. Considering their engagement with anatomical, analogical, diagrammatic, religious, magical, symbolic and political iconographies, this thesis shows how widely relevant and influential birth figures were to early modern culture. As well as employing birth figures as a historical resource, it also demonstrates how they can be productively analysed as works of art in their own right, with their own history. I argue that artists and engravers, as well as commissioning authors, brought their expertise, understanding, anxieties and preoccupations to the production of these images. Beyond providing a properly contextualised, historically sensitive and wide-ranging history of this particular kind of image, this thesis also aims to make a wider argument for the ways in which histories of typically neglected images – small, cheap, anonymous prints, book illustrations, and technical and medical images – can be fruitfully written.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available