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Born Southern

Childbirth, Motherhood, and Social Networks in the Old South

V. Lynn Kennedy

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In Born Southern, V. Lynn Kennedy addresses the pivotal roles of birth and motherhood in slaveholding families and communities in the Old South. She assesses the power structures of race, gender, and class—both in the household and in the public sphere—and how they functioned to construct a distinct antebellum southern society.

Kennedy’s unique approach links the experiences of black and white women, examining how childbirth and motherhood created strong ties to family, community, and region for both. She also moves beyond a simple exploration of birth as a physiological event, examining the...

In Born Southern, V. Lynn Kennedy addresses the pivotal roles of birth and motherhood in slaveholding families and communities in the Old South. She assesses the power structures of race, gender, and class—both in the household and in the public sphere—and how they functioned to construct a distinct antebellum southern society.

Kennedy’s unique approach links the experiences of black and white women, examining how childbirth and motherhood created strong ties to family, community, and region for both. She also moves beyond a simple exploration of birth as a physiological event, examining the social and cultural circumstances surrounding it: family and community support networks, the beliefs and practices of local midwives, and the roles of men as fathers and professionals.

The southern household—and the relationships among its members—is the focus of the first part of the book. Integrating the experiences of all women, black and white, rich and poor, free and enslaved, these narratives suggest the complexities of shared experiences that united women in a common purpose but also divided them according to status. The second part moves the discussion from the private household into the public sphere, exploring how southerners used birth and motherhood to negotiate public, professional, and political identities.

Kennedy’s systematic and thoughtful study distinguishes southern approaches to childbirth and motherhood from northern ones, showing how slavery and rural living contributed to a particularly southern experience.

Reviews

Reviews

A wonderful book about women (slaves and whites) who mixed daily routines in a plantation setting and shared some aspects unique to their gender—birthing, motherhood, and the OldSouth environment... A must read for those with interests in the Old South, gender, African American history, and women's studies... Essential.

Born Southern is a useful addition to an admittedly sparse field; Kennedy joins scholars such as Sally McMillen and Marie Jenkes Schwartz in analyzing what birth meant to southern women.

Born Southern is an important book that offers a fresh perspective of childbirth and maternity in the antebellum South; transcends the boundaries of social, cultural, legal, and political history; and highlights the value of close readings of sources.

This treatment of antebellum southern maternity takes the issue beyond women's history and the often too tight frame of family and community history and places it at the center of southern power relations.

Historians of the Old South, gender, and family will want to read this book. It could reform our assumptions about regional distinctiveness.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
288
ISBN
9781421405803
Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: "Strange News" and the Reformation of England
1. Protestant Reform and the Fashion Monster
2. "The mother of a monster, and not of an orderly birth": Women and the

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: "Strange News" and the Reformation of England
1. Protestant Reform and the Fashion Monster
2. "The mother of a monster, and not of an orderly birth": Women and the Signs of Disorder
3. Forms of Imperfect Union
4. Heedless Women, Headless Monsters, and the Warsof Religion
5. The ranters monster and the "Children of God"
Conclusion: The Signs of the Times
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio