Brown Bag “New Englands Teares, for Old England's Feares”: Comparing Attitudes Toward Infertility in Early Modern England and Colonial New England 2 October 2013.Wednesday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM Marisa Benoit, University of Oxford

This project is a comparative study of attitudes toward infertility in early modern England and colonial New England from c.1650 to 1750 through analysis of a wide variety of contemporary sources. To compare early modern England with its own “child,” colonial New England, is to examine two societies linked by cultural and religious norms but facing different challenges. These challenges are explored by analyzing infertility’s representation in popular, religious, and medical literature and personal writing from both societies. As the two societies’ relationship was often described through reproductive language, analyzing representations of infertility provides a different angle through which to view the links between “Old” and New England while highlighting the connections between the sources themselves. The topic of infertility provides the opportunity to untangle the web of emerging anatomical discoveries, social ideas about gender relations, the family, and the importance of children, and religious ideas about generation that characterized attitudes toward reproduction in the early modern period.