Childbirth and religious ritual in early modern London.

Childbirth and religious ritual in early modern London.
09 Jan 2018, 17:30 to 09 Jan 2018, 19:30
IHR Peter Marshall Room, N204, Second Floor, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Emily Vine , Queen Mary University of London

This paper considers the religious rituals of childbirth and lying-in as practised by Catholic, Jewish and Protestant nonconformist households in early modern London. Childbirth was a time of significance for all of these religious minority communities, who were also united by the shared experience of living in the urban environment of the City, and the fact that childbirth generally took place at home during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Making use of religious prescriptive literature, printed funeral sermons and personal writing, this paper considers the significance of the home at times of childbirth for those whose ability to openly practise their faith was often restricted. Making use of Van Gennep's ideas relating to 'rites of passage', it demonstrates how the concept of 'crossing the threshold' can be just as meaningfully applied to the boundaries of domestic space as it can to the transition points of the life cycle.

Chair: Mary Clare Martin


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