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Cambridge Reproduction


I am a PhD student in the department of Classics here in Cambridge, working with Professor Philip Hardie. My research explores the poetics of pregnancy and childbirth in the works of the Roman poet Ovid. It is well-recognised that Ovid’s works are highly body-centric, but research into his poetry has generally focused on the violated and fragmented body, especially when it comes to the female body. By contrast, the creative aspects of the female body, namely pregnancy and childbirth, have been comparatively neglected. Yet Ovid’s interest in every aspect of childbirth – from pregnancy to stretchmarks to abortion to breastfeeding – is quite unique within Latin poetry. In my research, I aim not to use Ovid’s work for historical information about pregnancy and parturition in the Roman world, but rather to consider how pregnancy and childbirth function within Ovid’s distinctive poetic practice. While this naturally involves the theme of gender, it also leads to wider literary questions, such as the politics of Ovid’s poetry, the philosophical ideas underpinning his conception of ‘the human’, and his construction of his own poetic persona.