Policing the Female Body: Invisible Burdens in the Medical Humanities
Emily Schmit, Gretchen Strobbe, Julia CrawfordZoom
In looking at "The Autobiography of Margery Kempe" and Jane Austen’s "Emma" and "Mansfield Park", one is afforded a close look at the invisible burdens faced by the female body. Objectified, abused, conquered, molded, and admired, the female body emerges as a heavily politicized object, constrained to silence and conformity. This panel seeks to trace the systemic and institutionalized constructs that withstand the passage of time, continuing to reinforce these invisible burdens that manifest into physical limitations for these female bodies. Whether it is through the thinning of Margery’s body, the policing of Fanny Price, or the elder caregiving duties imposed on Emma, these burdens all reveal political expectations of the female body. The intertwined relationship of physical and invisible burdens for women are heavily explored in these texts. By exposing the physical damage of these invisible constructs imposed on these women, this panel seeks to break the silent stature their bodies have endured for so long, as well as revealing the ways the female body has carried the burdens of social obligations through different times and situations.
The three papers are:
Gretchen Strobbe-- “Suffering Women: the Medieval Struggle to Bridge a Healthy Body with a Faithful Soul”
Emily Schmit-- “Duty towards Ailing Elders in Austen’s 'Emma'”
Julia Crawford-- “Politics of the Female Body: Fanny Price in Jane Austen’s 'Mansfield Park'”