We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy. By closing this message, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

Fertility, Folklore and the Reproductive Body

  • 14/11/2023
  • 10:00-17:00
  • 50 Fitzroy Street, London W1T 5BT, and online

Fertility, Folklore and the Reproductive Body

Tuesday 14 November 2023, 09:30-17:00

free, one-day symposium dedicated to folklore of the reproductive body–fertility, childbirth, contraception, menstruation, and reproduction, including, but not limited to, popular knowledge and belief, folk narratives and contemporary legend, vernacular religion, superstitions, rites and rituals, interdisciplinary perspectives, material culture, and wellbeing.

This is a free symposium, but if you are able to make a donation to the Folklore Society, that would be greatly appreciated. DONATE TO THE FOLKLORE SOCIETY

In-Person Participants: to book to attend in person at 50 Fitzroy Street, London W1T 5BT: contact us

Online Participants: Please book your free ticket via Eventbrite (you can also opt for a ‘free admission with donation’ ticket if you’d like to make a donation to The Folklore Society): https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fertility-folklore-and-the-reproductive-body-tickets-609509769127

Programme (download the Programme and Abstracts here)

9.30-9.45       Registration

9.45-10.00     Welcome

10.00-10.30  Dr Caroline Oates (Librarian, The Folklore Society)

‘”Where’s the baby?” Antifertility and Infanticide in a Medieval Werewolf Romance’ (in person)

10.30-11.15    Dr Victoria Newton (Senior Research Fellow, The Open University, UK), and

                      Dr Mari Greenfield, (Research Associate, The Open University, UK)

‘Reproductive Bodylore: The Role of Vernacular Knowledge in Contraceptive Choices’ (in person)

11.15-11.45    Mary Stratman (PhD Student, Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, UK)

‘”She was really with women, with me that day”’ (online)

11.45-12.00   Break

12.00-12.30   Dr Pallabi Borah (Assistant Professor, Department of Folklore Research, Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam, India)

‘Folk Beliefs of Fertility and Menstruation: Narratives from Northeast India’ (online)

12.30-13.00   Anna A. Lazareva (Independent Researcher)

‘Plot Structures of Women’s Stories about Dreams Predicting Childbirth as Reflections of Folk Beliefs about the Soul (Eastern Slavic cultures)’ (online)

13.00-14.00  Break

14.00-14.30  Dr Claire Collins (Reading University Library, UK)

‘The Use of Plants and Precious Stones for the Management and Treatment of Pregnancy and Childbirth in Late Medieval England’ (in person)

14.30-15.00   Olivia Langford (PhD Student, The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, UK)

‘Milk, Urine, Earth: Reproductive Care and Female Community within the Royal College of Physicians’ Early Modern Receipt Books’ (online)

15.00-15.30  Dr Megan Kenny (Senior Lecture in Psychology, Sheffield Hallam University, UK)

‘Like Pulling Teeth: The History and Contemporary Relevance of Vagina Dentata Folklore’ (online)

15.30-15.45   Break

15.45-16.15    Dulce Morgado Neves, Ana Rita Monteiro and Mário JDS Santos (CIES-ISCTE, Portugal)

‘Motherhood and Folk Knowledge in Portugal: Narratives, Superstitions, and Beliefs’ (online)

16.15-16.45    Sarah Shultz (Folk Studies & Anthropology Department at Western Kentucky University).

‘Salty for a Boy, Sweet for a Girl: Folk Belief About Pregnancy, Motherhood, and the Body’ (poss. in person, TBC)

16.45-17.00   Close of conference

The conference is a collaboration between the Folklore Society and The Open University’s ‘Reproductive Bodylore’ project. The conference is supported by AHRC Grant Number AH/S011587/1

Related ‘Bodylore’ Pop-up Exhibition, 3-8 October 2023, Truman Brewery, London: Free

Bodylore – The role of shared stories in making contraceptive choices

3rd – 8th Oct 2023

11 Dray Walk, Truman Brewery, London, E1 6QL

Admission free, and open to the public

Opening hours:  Tues 3rd – Fri 6th Oct: 11-6pm; Sat 7th & Sunday 8th Oct: 11-5pm

From gossip in the school corridors, to a sitcom storyline, or a conversation with friends over coffee – what we hear about contraception comes from many different sources. How do we make sense of it all? And how do these stories influence the choices we make?

A one-week pop-up exhibition at The Truman Brewery, Bodylore shares intimate stories from folklore, friends, and first-hand experience in order to explore and contextualise the ever-changing narrative on contraception, and the complicated decisions people make in selecting, stopping and swapping contraceptive methods.

Designed in collaboration with creative studio, The Liminal Space, and Researchers from The Open University using real-world stories and candid insights, Bodylore aims to encourage fresh dialogue and improve the future experience of making contraceptive choices for everyone. Visitors are invited to read, listen and contribute their own unique stories.

Reproductive Bodylore: The Role of Vernacular Knowledge in Women’s Contraceptive Decision-Making was funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Grant (AH/S011587/1) and led by a team at The Open University (OU) in partnership with Public Health England and The Folklore Society.