vernacular-bodies book cover

Vernacular Bodies: The Politics of Reproduction in Early Modern England

Making babies was a mysterious process in 17th-century England. Fissell uses popular sources—songs, jokes, witchcraft pamphlets, prayerbooks, popular medical manuals—to recover how ordinary men and women understood the processes of reproduction. Because the human body was so often used as a metaphor for social relations, the grand events of high politics such as the English Civil War reshaped popular ideas about conception and pregnancy. This book is the first account of ordinary people’s ideas about reproduction, and offers a new way to understand how common folk experienced the sweeping political changes that characterized early modern England.