Gender and Pain in Modern History
Birkbeck, University of London
Public Conference: 24 – 25 March 2017
In 2012, The Journal of Pain published a definitive study about the relationship between gender and pain, showing that for the vast majority of ailments, women reported significantly higher levels of pain (approximately twenty per cent higher) than men. In a variety of historical contexts, the female body has been associated with heightened sensitivity of various types. These images were borne out by cultural representations of female delicacy. However, female bodies have also been singled out for their ability to bear heightened pain, especially during childbirth. Representations of male stoicism (or perceived lack thereof) in the face of pain have also been a powerful image in many contexts. Women and men have long been thought to experience bodily sensations including discomfort and pain in a variety of culturally and historically specific ways: pain has routinely been gendered.
This two-day conference focuses on the historical relationship(s) between gender and pain between the early modern period and the present day. It aims to foster discussion among experts working on women’s history, the history of masculinity, and the history of gender; the history of science, health, and medicine; and the history of the body, with perspectives from a variety of national contexts and disciplinary backgrounds.
Confirmed speakers include Professor Keith Wailoo, Townsend Martin Professor of History and Public Affairs (Princeton University), Professor Wendy Kline, Dema G. Seelye Chair in the History of Medicine (Purdue University), and Dr Lisa Smith (University of Essex).
Free event, open to all: Book Your Place
Organised by Dr Whitney Wood and Professor Joanna Bourke
This conference is supported by the Birkbeck/Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund and the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities.
Image: V0010874 - Wellcome Library, London
A woman suffering the pain of cholic; illustrated by demons tugging on a rope wound around her stomach. Coloured etching by G. Cruikshank, 1819, after Captain F. Marryat.