Mass Hysteria: Medicine, Culture, and Mothers' Bodies

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In Mass Hysteria, Rebecca Kukla examines the present-day medical and cultural practices surrounding pregnancy, new motherhood, and infant feeding. In the late-eighteenth century, the configuration of the maternal body underwent a radical transformation and the two maternal bodies that emerged out of this transformation still govern our imagination and rituals surrounding pregnancy and lactation. Exploring the history and the current life of these two maternal bodies within medical institutions, popular culture, and politics, Kukla offers a critical assessment of the lived repercussions of these ideological figures and practices for contemporary women's and infants' health and well-being.

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Editorial Reviews

Kukla advances feminist thinking about maternity and breastfeeding…Highly recommended.
Hastings Center Report
A learned, engaging, and lively account.
— Hilde Lindemann
Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy
Packed with material drawn from the history of medicine as well as popular and professional sources....A rich resource.
Elizabeth M. Armstrong
With sly wit, impressive historical scope and deep moral conviction, Rebecca Kukla brilliantly illuminates modern cultural beliefs and practices about motherhood as an embodied experience. Taking us back into seventeenth century Europe and through the Enlightenment, Kukla deftly and vividly interprets texts and pictures to uncover the historical foundations of the mutually constitutive relationship between maternal bodies and the body politic and to illustrate how this history, no less than contemporary technologies, shapes and constrains the lived experience of pregnancy and mothering today. With insights that transcend liberalism and postmodernism, Kukla re-interprets the usual dichotomies—private/public, nature/culture, inner/outer, self/other—and offers a profoundly feminist reading of the fluid, permeable boundaries of maternal bodies. The ‘fix’ she proposes is one that promises to restore women’s integrity, agency and identity both within and without motherhood. Mass Hysteria is a tour de force of feminist scholarship.
Kukla advances feminist thinking about maternity and breastfeeding…Highly recommended.
Hastings Center Report - Hilde Lindemann
A learned, engaging, and lively account.
Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy
Packed with material drawn from the history of medicine as well as popular and professional sources....A rich resource.
Summer / Fall 2008 Feminist Collections: A Quarterly Of Women's Studies Resources
[Kukla's] analysis is occasionally brilliant.
Amy Mullin
Mass Hysteria: Medicine, Culture and Mothers' Bodies is articulate, thoughtful, carefully researched and argued. It breaks new ground in both feminist and philosophical scholarship. Kukla encourages us to reflect critically on what mothers expect of themselves, and what society expects of mothers.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Rebecca Kukla is an associate professor of philosophy at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, as well as an affiliated associate professor at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University. From 2003-2005, she was a Greenwall Fellow in Bioethics and Health Policy at The Johns Hopkins University. She is the editor of Aesthetics and Cognition in Kant's Critical Philosophy (2006), as well as the author of numerous articles and book chapters.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Acknowledgments Chapter 2 Figures Part 3 Part One Part 4 Introduction - Impressionable Bodies Chapter 5 A "Private Looking-Glasse" Chapter 6 Permeable and Perambulating Wombs Chapter 7 The Maternal Imagination Chapter 8 Governing and Ordering Maternal Bodies Chapter 9 Preserving Nature Part 10 Imbibing the Love of the Fatherland Chapter 11 "Begin with Mothers" Chapter 12 Nature, Contingency and Freedom Chapter 13 Imbibing the Love of the Fatherland Chapter 14 The Meaning of Milk in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries Chapter 15 Literal and Figurative Lactating Bodies Chapter 16 First and Second Nature Part 17 Splitting the Maternal Body Chapter 18 Rousseau's Hysterical Diagnosis Chapter 19 Monitoring and Mapping Maternal Space Chapter 20 "The Truth Was Thereby Well Authenticated" Chapter 21 The Fetish Mother and the Unruly Mother Chapter 22 Dissecting Monsters Chapter 23 Bodies Bordering on the Pathological Part 24 Part Two Part 25 The Uterus as Public Theater Chapter 26 Setting the Stage Chapter 27 The "Sonographic Voyeur" and the Rituals of Fetal Recognition Chapter 28 The "What To Expect Pregnancy Universe" Chapter 29 Transparency, Anonymity and Maternal Identity Chapter 30 Civic Responsibility, Maternal Agency, and the Technic of Pregnancy Chapter 31 Maternal Duties, and the Constitutive Power of Ideology Part 32 Separation Anxiety Chapter 33 Principles of Proximity Chapter 34 Monstrous Separations Chapter 35 Embodied Mothering Chapter 36 Denaturing the Breast Chapter 37 The Myth of the Infinitely Bountiful Breast and its Magic Milk Chapter 38 The Lactating Body as Scientific Object Chapter 39 The Reemergence of the Unruly Mother Chapter 40 Ideology and the Constitution of Desire Chapter 41 Mother-Love and the Politics of Proximity Part 42 Intimacy, Vulnerability, and the Politics of Discomfort Chapter 43 Who Wouldn't Want to Breastfeed? Chapter 44 Private Places Chapter 45 Intimacy, Vulnerability, and Maternal Sexuality Chapter 46 Making Space Part 47 Fixing the Boundaries of Mothers' Bodies Chapter 48 The Dark But Firm Web of Experience Chapter 49 Decentered Mothers - Unfixed Boundaries Chapter 50 Solidifying the Maternal Self

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