Making Modern Maternity

Eds. Whitney Wood, Heather Love, Jerika Sanderson, and Karen Weingarten

From the early 1800s through the twenty-first century, pregnancy, childbirth, and maternal experiences have been constructed as “modern”—or alternatively positioned as traditional, antiquated, or somewhere in between—at multiple sites and across multiple forms of media, including expert advice, advertisements, popular magazines and newspapers, fiction, television, and film. Introducing their forthcoming special issue of Medical Humanities, Whitney Wood, Heather Love, Jerika Sanderson, and Karen Weingarten touch on how scholars writing from diverse disciplinary perspectives have approached the “making” of “modern maternity” across a range of time periods and geographic contexts. In so doing, the editors and authors who have contributed to this special issue underscore the political significance of reproduction, pregnancy, and maternity, in both the past and the present.



Portrait of Whitney Wood

Whitney Wood (she/her) is Canada Research Chair in the Historical Dimensions of Women’s Health at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Her research, which has appeared in Medical Humanities, Social History of Medicine, and The Canadian Historical Review, focuses on histories of obstetrics, gynecology, gender, and pain in nineteenth and twentieth century Canada. Her current projects include the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada-funded study, Changing Childbirth in Postwar Canada, 1945-2000, and work as director and principal investigator of the collaborative, multidisciplinary Pelvic Health and Public Health in Twentieth-Century Canada project, supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Project Grant.

Portrait of Heather Love

Heather A. Love (she/her) is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada), where her research and teaching focus on topics related to early twentieth-century literature and culture, technology and health, and STEM communication. She is author of Cybernetic Aesthetics: Modernist Networks of Information and Data (2023, Cambridge University Press), and PI for a Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada-funded project titled “Techno-Mediated Maternity.” Her work has appeared in Modernism/modernity, the Journal of Modern LiteratureFeminist Modernist StudiesNew Literary History, and the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine.



Portrait of Jerika Sanderson

Jerika Sanderson (she/her) is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Waterloo. Her research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and investigates 21st-century biotechnologies across the media, literature, and popular culture. She has worked on several interdisciplinary projects, including as a research assistant for a project investigating how 20th-century obstetric developments were communicated in magazines and medical texts.




Portrait of Karen WeingartenKaren Weingarten (she/her) is Professor of English at Queens College, City University of New York. Her book Pregnancy Test was published with Bloomsbury Press’s Object Lessons series (March 2023). Her first book Abortion in the American Imagination: Before Life and Choice, 1880-1940 (Rutgers UP, 2014) presents a genealogy of abortion rhetoric in American literature, film, and popular culture.

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