What happened in the early modern birthing room? Though the scene of birth is often understood as secret, a surprising number of texts tell us its story. Exploring material from Mary Tudor and Jane Seymour to the plays of Margaret Cavendish and the testimony of vagrant women, this event involves a seminar and a performed reading.

3pm-5pm Seminar

  • Leah Astbury, ‘Preparing for delivery in seventeenth-century England’
  • Isabel Davis, ‘A birthing room but no birth’
  • Adrian Wilson, ‘A story about a story about a story: “The Death of Queen Jane”’
  • Susan Wiseman, ‘Telling a life? Willughby’s case studies and non-elite women’s narratives’

5-6 Break tea / wine

6-8 Stories from the Birthing Room and Round Table.

  • Scripted and directed by Emma Whipday (UCL), actors perform writings from seventeenth-century courtrooms, plays and songs to disclose how women understood birth.
  • Round Table with the director, Emma Whipday, the actors and the academics who supplied the texts – Laura Gowing (King’s College) Birkbeck’s Isabel Davis and Sue Wiseman.

The entire afternoon and evening are free and open to all, but please reserve your space for the second part (from 6pm) using the online form.

Full details can be found here.

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