Imagination and Deformation: Monstrous Maternal Perversions of Natural Reproduction in Early Modern England

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/203494
Title:
Imagination and Deformation: Monstrous Maternal Perversions of Natural Reproduction in Early Modern England
Author:
Olsen, Lee Y.
Issue Date:
2011
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
IMAGINATION AND DEFORMATION: MONSTROUS MATERNAL PERVERSIONS OF NATURAL REPRODUCTION IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND examines the creation in early modern English reproductive, teratological, wonder, and fictional literature of the "monstrous mother"--a female reproductive figure capable of generating both fetal and non-fetal forms of offspring through the power of her imagination. While earlier critics have identified monstrous mothers in early modern English literature--figures who produce grotesque and/or excessive offspring, deny or obstruct nurture, commit infanticide, and sometimes exhibit their own physical deformities--such mothers require offspring to expose their monstrosity. That is, deformed, numerous, starving, sickly, or slain bodies testify to their mothers' monstrous desires, reproductive natures, and parenting practices. In contrast, I argue that monstrous maternity develops independently of the birth of offspring, and specifically, manifests during conception and pregnancy, before women deliver issue that exposes their monstrous maternal inclinations. While monstrous maternal power primarily develops from women's desires, it also remains embodied within conceiving and pregnant women, and thus permits women to generate not only deformed offspring and power, but also new, monstrous forms of generation.While monstrous mothers exercise powerful imaginative force that permits them to produce numerous types of "monstrous births," they also face antagonistic attempts to suppress their monstrous tendencies. Yet the authors of regulatory imagination texts, particularly sixteenth- and seventeenth-century obstetrical manuals, are repeatedly confounded by the monstrous mother's ability to innovate her imaginative influence when confronted with attempts to limit it. Thus, antagonism actually augments monstrous maternal power. Early modern fictional literature depicts the growth and innovation of monstrous maternity even as practitioners, husbands, and communities attempt to suppress it. Fictional works therefore re-theorize regulatory imagination theory, as they persistently underscore the uncontrollable nature of monstrous mothers and monstrous maternal reproduction.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
imagination literature; monstrous mother; monstrous reproduction; ternary sexual difference; English; embodiment; imagination
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; English
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Brown, Meg Lota

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoenen_US
dc.titleImagination and Deformation: Monstrous Maternal Perversions of Natural Reproduction in Early Modern Englanden_US
dc.creatorOlsen, Lee Y.en_US
dc.contributor.authorOlsen, Lee Y.en_US
dc.date.issued2011-
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractIMAGINATION AND DEFORMATION: MONSTROUS MATERNAL PERVERSIONS OF NATURAL REPRODUCTION IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND examines the creation in early modern English reproductive, teratological, wonder, and fictional literature of the "monstrous mother"--a female reproductive figure capable of generating both fetal and non-fetal forms of offspring through the power of her imagination. While earlier critics have identified monstrous mothers in early modern English literature--figures who produce grotesque and/or excessive offspring, deny or obstruct nurture, commit infanticide, and sometimes exhibit their own physical deformities--such mothers require offspring to expose their monstrosity. That is, deformed, numerous, starving, sickly, or slain bodies testify to their mothers' monstrous desires, reproductive natures, and parenting practices. In contrast, I argue that monstrous maternity develops independently of the birth of offspring, and specifically, manifests during conception and pregnancy, before women deliver issue that exposes their monstrous maternal inclinations. While monstrous maternal power primarily develops from women's desires, it also remains embodied within conceiving and pregnant women, and thus permits women to generate not only deformed offspring and power, but also new, monstrous forms of generation.While monstrous mothers exercise powerful imaginative force that permits them to produce numerous types of "monstrous births," they also face antagonistic attempts to suppress their monstrous tendencies. Yet the authors of regulatory imagination texts, particularly sixteenth- and seventeenth-century obstetrical manuals, are repeatedly confounded by the monstrous mother's ability to innovate her imaginative influence when confronted with attempts to limit it. Thus, antagonism actually augments monstrous maternal power. Early modern fictional literature depicts the growth and innovation of monstrous maternity even as practitioners, husbands, and communities attempt to suppress it. Fictional works therefore re-theorize regulatory imagination theory, as they persistently underscore the uncontrollable nature of monstrous mothers and monstrous maternal reproduction.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectimagination literatureen_US
dc.subjectmonstrous motheren_US
dc.subjectmonstrous reproductionen_US
dc.subjectternary sexual differenceen_US
dc.subjectEnglishen_US
dc.subjectembodimenten_US
dc.subjectimaginationen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineEnglishen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorBrown, Meg Lotaen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberBriggs, Lauraen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberZwinger, Lyndaen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberBrown, Meg Lotaen_US
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