Bearing Meaning: The Language of Birth

Front Cover
University of Illinois Press, 1998 - Medical - 441 pages
A passionate placement of childbearing at the core of human culture and society, Bearing Meaning is that rare combination of warm and genuine experience with profound, important scholarship. From Homer to obstetric texts to Our Bodies, Ourselves, and where the humanities and social sciences overlap and intertwine, Robbie Pfeufer Kahn has crafted a beautiful book that awards the meaning of childbearing to all, not just to women or to families with children. Taking into account how the politics of patriarchy has sought to define and control the birth process, Kahn liberates and releases this central human experience into the heart of society and culture where it can be shared, enjoyed, and understood in greater depth than it has ever been before. As personal and touching as it is far-reaching and analytical, Bearing Meaning is fresh, original, and exciting, moving effortlessly among textual analyses, social theories, and the invaluable experience of motherhood. Kahn makes an unprecedented contribution to the understanding of the maternal in culture and society - which will, in turn, have a powerful impact not only on the reading and teaching of standard materials on birth and motherhood but on the rethinking of social reform as well.
 

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Contents

The Plains of Troy and Bastille Day 1972
31
Writing the Body of Birth and Patriarchy
56
The Body of Birth Reconsidered
86
The Place of Birth and Social Change
113
Myths of Origins and the Development of Patriarchy
147
From Julius Caesar to Taurus the Bull
179
Obstetric Strategies
200
Unsavory Saviors
249
Narrative Interruption
271
Historical Foremothers
293
Taking Our Maternal Bodies Back
319
Lessons of the Milk
361
Epilogue
393
Bibliography
395
Index
427
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About the author (1998)

Robbie Pfeufer Kahn is a professor of sociology at the University of Vermont. She is the author of Bearing Meaning: The Language of Birth, winner of the 1997 Jesse Bernard Award.

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