Academic journal article Parergon

Medieval and Renaissance Lactations: Images, Rhetorics, Practices

Academic journal article Parergon

Medieval and Renaissance Lactations: Images, Rhetorics, Practices

Article excerpt

Sperling, Jutta Gisela, ed., Medieval and Renaissance Lactations: Images, Rhetorics, Practices (Women and Gender in the Early Modern World), Farnham, Ashgate, 2013; hardback; pp. 336; 30 b/w illustrations; R.R.P. [pounds sterling]75.00; ISBN 9781409448600.

This collection of thirteen essays addresses lactation imagery, in conjunction with the practices and discourses surrounding milk-exchange in medieval and early modern Europe and the wider Mediterranean. Jutta Gisela Sperling's Introduction provides brief descriptions for each of the essays, along with an historical overview of the topic from ancient Greek understandings of motherhood and breastfeeding, to the emergence of images such as the Madonna Lactans, and medieval discourses around charity and the transfer of maternal love. The individual contributions progress roughly chronologically from the Middle Ages and through the early decades of the seventeenth century, covering material from the medieval Islamic world and Spain, with the majority of the essays centring on the art production and discourses of the Italian Renaissance.

The collection covers topics such the narrative, allegorical, and metaphorical content of breastfeeding and breastfeeding imagery, discourses on lactation and the anxieties surrounding wet-nursing, the physiology of milk-production and its representations, gender identity in the early modern period, and the social and cultural effects of nursing. …

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