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Associate Professor of English Dana Oswald has been awarded a UW System Fellowship at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at UW-Madison.
By examining the bodies of women as they conceive, miscarry, give birth, and lactate in Anglo-Saxon texts that are medical, legal, religious, historical, and literary, Dr. Oswald shows that the policing of these bodies contradictorily highlights the authority of women over both body and progeny.
By placing genres of texts that rarely speak to one another in conversation, she offers a fuller vision of the experience of maternity. "Despite the fact that the monastic literary tradition only rarely offers representations of women, the variety of genres examined here allow us to see past exceptional women by examining the corporeal experience of maternity," Dr. Oswald said. "I reveal that women sought to control the reproductive processes of their bodies, knowing full well the dangers of doing so, and that they used their maternal labors as a means of self-authorization."