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Picturing Women's Health 1750-1910

* Registration now ended *


A One-Day Postgraduate Interdisciplinary Conference

University of Warwick, Saturday 22nd January, 2011


“One hears sometimes of a child being ‘the picture of health;’ now Emma always gives me the idea of being the complete picture of grown-up health. She is loveliness itself Mr. Knightley, is not she?”

Jane Austen, Emma, chapter 5


Plenary speakers:  

Prof. Hilary Marland (University of Warwick)

Dr. Claire Brock (University of Leicester)


The conference Picturing Women’s Health 1750-1910 will explore the interface of diverse discourses that constructed ideas about women’s health during the Romantic and Victorian periods. In these years, writers and artists documented extraordinary discoveries and advancements in science, anatomy, and medicine.  This inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary conference will examine the vicissitudes of attitudes towards women’s ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ bodies over the one-hundred-and-sixty year period. In particular, conference papers will consider representations of the female body in fictional/non-fictional literature, fine arts, and visual media and how they reflected or influenced women’s understandings and experiences of their own health and bodies.


Approaches will include:

How did different women’s testimonies or documentations of health relate to each other? How accurately or inaccurately did men and women artistically portray the female body in health and illness? How were scientific and artistic ideas about women’s health in dialogue? What is the relationship between the representation of woman’s body and her (in)ability to perform certain familial and social roles? How are contemporary critical debates on Romantic and Victorian public and private spheres complicated by the periods’ representations of women’s health?


Key topics will include:

Madness and hysteria




Motherhood and wifehood

Birth and breast-feeding

Pregnancy, birth-control, and abortion

Fashion (dress, cosmetics, decoration)

Exercise and well-being

Un/healthy spaces (including spa and resort towns, hospitals, slums, factories, home)

Age (childhood, puberty, menopause)

Illness and disease (venereal diseases, disabilities, disfigurations)    

Death and grief (terminal illness, death of spouse or child, execution)

Medicine (diagnosis, prescription, treatment)

Medication and surgery

Health and superstition

Metaphors of health

Definitions of health


Please note that the call for papers has now ended. 

ONLINE FORM To Attend Conference

*please note that You need to fill in this form and then download, print and fill in the registration form which can be found in the links on the left-hand side of this page, titled 'Registration'.  Please send this, with payment, to the address on the form.*

**International Delegates may pay in cash on the day, if required** 

This form is closed and is no longer accepting any submissions.

Thank you for your time.


Anatomie des parties de la génértion de l’homme et de la femme

Paris, 1773. Colored mezzotint. National Library of Medicine.

Jacques Fabien Gautier D’Agoty



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