Academic Unit of Reproductive and Developmental Medicine Seminar 14 July

Title: The Rabbit-Woman of Godalming: Childbirth, Medical Thought and Power Struggles in the Delivery Room

Time:  12.30 – 1.30


Speaker:  Professor Karen Harvey, Department of History, University of Sheffield

rabbit womanIn 1726, a woman began giving birth to rabbits. Several highly respected doctors believed her. In this talk, Professor Harvey explores why it took over two months for the hoax to be exposed. The talk explores the myths that eighteenth-century people held about pregnancy and foetal development. The talk will also examine the power struggles around pregnancy and delivery, as these explain why Mary Toft took part in this painful and dangerous hoax. The case offers a useful way to reflect on contemporary knowledge about the relationship between mother and fetus and the continuing power relations within which delivery takes place.