Virtual Event: Anna Bonnell Freidin at York Festival of IdeasBirthing Romans

Across the vast expanse of the Roman Empire, anxieties about childbirth tied individuals to one another, to the highest levels of imperial politics, even to the movements of the stars. Anna Bonnell Freidin, author of Birthing Romans, will shed critical light on the diverse ways pregnancy and childbirth were understood, experienced and managed in ancient Rome during the first three centuries of the Common Era.

Anna will discuss how inhabitants of the Roman Empire - especially women and girls - understood their bodies and constructed communities of care to mitigate and make sense of the risks of pregnancy and childbirth. Drawing on medical texts, legal documents, poetry, amulets, funerary art, and more, she will show how these communities were deeply human yet never just human. Anna will illustrate how patients and caregivers took their place alongside divine and material agencies to guard against the risks inherent to childbearing. She will vividly illustrate how these efforts and vital networks offer a new window onto Romans’ anxieties about order, hierarchy, and the individual’s place in the empire and cosmos.

Join Anna as she unearths a risky world that is both familiar and not our own, revealing how mistakes, misfortunes, and interventions in childbearing were seen to have far-reaching consequences, reverberating across generations and altering the course of people’s lives, their family histories, and even the fate of an empire.

This event will take place live on Zoom Webinar. You will receive a link to join a couple of days before the event and a reminder an hour before. During the event, you can ask questions via a Q&A function, but audience cameras and microphones will remain muted throughout.