Symposium: Biomedical Sciences and the Maternal Body

One day free symposium organised by the Postgraduate Contemporary
Women’s Writing Network with kind support from The British Society for
Literature and Science.

When engaging new audiences in contemporary women’s writing, an
increasing awareness of the importance of interdisciplinary methods has
served to draw attention to the ways in which literary expertise can be
used to engage with science and the field of medicine. Women writers in
particular exploit the use of literature as a vehicle for promoting
social responsibility and awareness, especially when it comes to
concerns surrounding recent developments in the fields of science and

The symposium seeks to examine the relationship between biomedical
science and the maternal body as represented in the works of
contemporary women writers. The pregnant body has always been a site for
much debate, particularly when placed in dialogue with feminist issues
of autonomy and subjectivity. When considered alongside biomedical
science, these debates are further complicated by women’s ambivalent
attitudes towards both the freedoms and the constrictions that modern
scientific developments bring. In exploring the relationship between
women and nature, biology, science and technology, contemporary women
writers go some way towards addressing the questions raised by such

In considering these and other questions, we welcome papers that address
this fascinating area of development within contemporary women’s
writing. Topics may include (but are by no means limited to):

• Pregnancy, subjectivity and autonomy
• Contemporary conceptions of motherhood
• Women’s relationship with their own biology
• Choice, control and power
• Binarisms regarding ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’
• Maternal embracing or rejection of scientific interventions
• Reproductive technologies and roles within reproduction

Additionally, we are delighted to confirm Professor Clare Hanson as the
keynote speaker for the event. Her research interests lie in the
relationship between medicine and culture, with a particular emphasis on
theoretical and fictional responses to new reproductive technologies and
the cultural implications of modern genetic science.

Please submit a 200-word abstract for 15-minute papers, along with a
brief biographical note to by 15th January, 2015.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us via this
email address or through Twitter (@PGCWWN) and Facebook.

We are also delighted to be able to offer one £50 bursary to cover the
travel costs for attending the event. In order to qualify for this
bursary, the speaker must produce a review of the event (by 7th March)
for publication on the PG CWWN blog. Please state in your email if you
are interested in applying for this opportunity, and why you think you
should be selected.
Joanne Ella Parsons
PhD Candidate
Bath Spa University

Social Media and Website Officer
Feminist and Women's Studies Association

Twitter: @joparsons