Past Event

Lecture: 'Pregnancy Showing: Fictional Pregnancy in the Era of Charlotte Perkins Gilman'

This lecture will be presented by Parley Ann Boswell, professor of English at EIU.

Pregnancy represents one of the most challenging, complicated and ultimately compelling of all fictional elements. American authors had to obscure the details of fictional pregnancy until the turn of the 20th century; but especially as women began publishing more fiction, pregnancy began to show. We will explore how fictional pregnancy began to enrich American literature during Gilman’s time by looking at pregnancy fiction by Harriet Jacobs, Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton and Gilman herself. These and other writers contributed to the birth of the American pregnancy narrative and influenced many later writers and filmmakers.

Parley Ann Boswell teaches American literature from the colonial period through the early 20th century, and film studies courses at EIU. She has published on popular literature from the colonial period through 21st-century Hollywood culture. Her forthcoming book, Pregnancy in Film and Literature, will be published in 2014.

This event is part of the exhibit “Literature of Prescription: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and ‘The Yellow Wall-Paper'” that Booth Library will host from Sept. 23-Nov. 2.

More about the Exhibit
The exhibit examines a 19th-century writer’s challenge to the medical profession and the relationship between science and society. Artist and writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who was discouraged from pursuing a career to preserve her health, rejected the ideas in a terrifying short story titled ‘The Yellow Wall-Paper.’

The famous tale served as an indictment of the medical profession and the social conventions restricting women’s professional and creative opportunities.

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