The Male Offspring in Literature: Mental Pregnancy and Childbirth


Tuesday, February 20, 2018, 3:00pm to 4:00pm


RCC Seminar Room, 26 Trowbridge St., Cambridge MA
Traditionally, literature has been a bastion of male creativity, not of female procreativity, because it has mostly silenced women and obliterated the written expression of female bodily experiences, such as childbearing and childbirth. Many feminists have argued that, formerly, the envy and dread of men for a woman’s reproductive powers have taken the form of prohibition and hatred for her intellectual skills, which have been considered unfeminine or deviant, because they could divert her from the real duty in her life: marriage and motherhood.

Francisco CortesThroughout history, the language of procreativity and birth has, nevertheless, been confiscated by male authors to impregnate a mental progeny of their own, stemming from their unique motherless genius. In fact, since Greek myths and Shakespeare to Sterne or Tolstoy, a man’s brain has been a womb, pregnant with ideas, which have been aborted, prematurely labored with pains, or successfully delivered during the birthing process of writing a literary work, towards the postnatal outcome of its publication, which has been desirable to achieve immortality for the proud expectant father and his offspring, only made of words. In contrast, women’s language of the body and reproductive biology has generally been a mute tongue.

Speaker: Francisco José Cortés Vieco, RCC Fellow, Visiting Researcher at the Department of History of Science at Harvard University