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Push: Childbirth in global screen culture

Editors Amy C. Chambers, Xi W. Liu, and Kate Taylor-Jones are inviting proposals for contributions to the edited volume “Push, Childbirth in global screen culture”.

The act of childbirth is a global experience and yet, on film, it often remains hidden behind careful framing and a stereotypical and often inaccurate imagination of this event.  Muriel Zagha (2019) notes that childbirth ‘remains a richly problematic object for film’ and to date, there has been little sustained scholarly attention on this topic. The experience has for the most part been heavily mediated via the lens of cinematic genres, indeed, as Anne Carruther’s (2021) notes there it is not really possible to neatly group and locate films that present a gynae-narrative once the ‘supporting structures’ of genre conventions are removed.

Horror studies has been one area where work has been done on images of childbirth and gestation. However, all too often in this genre, the pregnant person’s body is positioned as abject and their pain and suffering offered up for spectatorial enjoyment.  In comparison, films such as Pieces of a Woman (Mundrucz, 2021), Umameru (Goda, 2010), and Roma (Cuarón, 2018) present a vision of ‘corporeal normality’ (Carruthers, 2021:2) and woman directors such as Haimy Assefa, Naomi Kawase, Luk Yee-sum have sought to approach the topic with a more nuanced and interrogative lens. This is alongside fictional TV dramas such as Birthcare Center/Sanhujoliwon (2020, tvN) that have focused on exploring both pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period and The Handmaid’s Tale (2017- , Hulu) that has placed the whole process as part of the nightmare of dystopian state power.

This collection will seek to expand beyond mainstream and often solely man-directed representations of pregnant and labouring bodies as abject and monstrous and/or comic and uncontrollable.

The complete call for proposals is found here.
Deadline: May 27, 2022.