Bloody Histories: Seminar 16th March

Our second research seminar of the academic year takes us back in time with two fascinating talks which are not for the faint of heart. Join us at 4 pm on 16th March in NN.0.07, Martin Hall, East Park, Loughborough University.

Tim Reinke-Williams, ‘Wounds, Blood and Manhood in Seventeenth-century England’ 

This paper uses descriptions of wounded and bleeding male bodies from life-writings produced by women and men in seventeenth-century England to explore ideas about early modern masculinity. As part of a broader ongoing project on vernacular attitudes to men’s bodies in England between the late sixteenth and mid eighteenth century, the paper will argue that, far from being regarded as signifiers of femininity and vulnerability, the open and porous ‘leaky’ bodies of early modern men were imagined as sites for the display and remembrance of bravery and strength, and as such reinforced rather than undermined meanings of manhood and the patriarchal gender order.

Tim Reinke-Williams is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Northampton, where he has taught since 2010, and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. His research interests focus on women’s and gender history in early modern England, and he is the author of Women, Work and Sociability in Early Modern England (Palgrave, 2014), as well as articles in Continuity and Change, Gender and History, and History Compass.


Sara Read, ‘Thanksgiving after Twice Miscarrying’: Divine Will, Women, and Miscarriage in Early Modern England’

The centrality of religion in the lives of early modern people cannot be overstated. In particular, the religious observance and the constant self-reflection and self-examination required of the new Protestant faith caused many to scrutinise all life events for signs of God’s favour or otherwise towards them. Even for people who were less ardent in their personal practice, the Bible was the main cultural referent document and allusions and biblical metaphors populated everyday discourse at all levels. No where does this become more apparent than in the ways that women interpreted their reproductive bodies. This paper explores some of the ways that women from the early modern era worked through their experiences of miscarriage in their life-writings, using their faith to search for meaning in this sad event.

Sara Read is a lecturer in English at Loughborough University. She is widely published in the area of early modern women and reproductive health. Her first monograph examined representations of menstruation in early modern literature, which includes both traditional ‘literary’ texts such as poetry and plays but also life writing such as diaries and letters and even court records. She has subsequently worked on miscarriage and pregnancy. In addition to her scholarly work, Sara writes for a non-academic audience and her most recent publication was a popular history of women’s lives in early modern England, Maids, Wives, Widows: Exploring Early Modern England 1540-1740.


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