Chapter published in:Corpus Pragmatic Studies on the History of Medical Discourse
Edited by Turo Hiltunen and Irma Taavitsainen
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 330] 2022
► pp. 179–202
Chapter 8Language, labour and ideology
Constructing epistemologies of childbirth in the first three centuries of English-language midwifery texts (1540–1800)
Writings on midwifery and women’s medicine related to childbirth reflect the many changes affecting this field during the Early Modern period, which in turn reflect changes in epistemological values Through the lens of critical discourse analysis, this paper discusses existing and emergent ideological demarcations between the wide range of midwifery texts published between 1500 and 1800 through a qualitative examination of prefatory material in these texts. It is shown that the earliest midwifery texts make much recourse to the authoritative knowledge of classical authors, following the tradition of medieval Scholasticism. As female midwives enter the textual scene, personal experience and empathy become valued sources of knowledge. Finally, the emergence of 'man-midwives' led to scientific prowess combined with personal experience touted as the most superior form of knowledge relating to the care of parturient women.
Keywords: Critical Discourse Analysis, Discourse-Historical Approach, midwifery, Scholasticism, ideology, textual practice
- 2.A brief history of midwifery and (textual) practice, 1540–1800
- 3.1Knowledge, ideology and Critical Discourse Analysis
- 3.2Creating a corpus of early midwifery texts (1540–1800)
- 4.An overview of language and ideology in the prefatory material
- 4.1The value and audience of knowledge dissemination
- 4.2Authors as the curators of knowledge
- 5.Concluding remarks
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