Pregnant Fictions Childbirth and the Fairy Tale in Early Modern FranceBy Holly Tucker
"Pregnant Fictions" explores the complex role of pregnancy in early modern tale-telling and considers how stories of childbirth were used to rethink gendered "truths" at a key moment in the history of ideas. How male medical authorities and female literary authors struggled to describe the inner workings of the unseen - and competed to shape public understanding of it - is the focus of this engaging work by Holly Tucker. In illuminating the gender politics underlying dramatic changes in reproductive theory and practice, Tucker shows just how tenuous the boundaries of scientific "fact" and marvellous fictions were in early modern France. On the literary front, Tucker argues, women used the fairy tale to rethink the biology of childbirth and the sociopolitical uses to which it had been put. She shows that in references to midwives, infertility, sex selection and embryological theories, fairy-tale writers experimented with alternative ways of understanding pregnancy. In so doing, they suggested new ways in which to envision women, knowledge and power in both the public and private spheres.