In this dazzling collection of over 200 photos of pregnant women taken from art libraries, childbirth manuals, maternity ads, contemporary art, and personal albums, the authors explore the paradox between image and reality. The photos illuminate how society creates feminine roles through the institution of pregnancy-and how women resist such roles.
Sandra Matthews is a writer and photographer. Essays of hers have appeared in Afterimage and Exposure, and her photographs have been exhibited internationally. She is also Associate Professor of Film and Photography at Hampshire College.Laura Wexler is Associate Professor of American Studies and Women's Studies at Yale University. She is the author of the forthcoming Tender Violence: Domestic Images in an Age of U.S. Imperialism.
"This book establishes pregnant pictures as a genre and pregnancy itself as a shape and an experience worthy of aesthetic attention. As elastic as the pregnant bodies they portray, these photos encompass and express the multiple dimensions of pregnancy and the many subtleties of the pregnant woman, from the archetypal to the idiosyncratic. A stunning collection and a fascinating analysis!" -- Robbie Davis-Floyd, author of Birth as an American Rite of Passage
"... presents a revolutionary body of images and analyses. What an astonishing archive Matthews and Wexler have assembled! Scholars and artists will be making reference to this book for years to come." -- Wayne Koestenbaum, author of Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting an Icon
"In tracing pictures of pregnancy in modernist art photography, childbirth books, medical texts, advertising images and family photographs, Wexler and Matthews reveal the shifting social attitudes about pregnancy in the twentieth century. Inventing a vocabulary to discuss forms of representation that have remained as invisible in popular as in academic discourse, they have offered us a stunning collection of images, and a wonderful introduction to a new feminist photographic theory and practice." -- Marianne G. Hirsch, author of Family Frames: Photography, Narrative and Postmemory
"...skillfully unravels the hidden politics behind the imagery." -- Village Voice Literary Supplement