I got my official acceptance yesterday for the conference so…ON TO THE GIRDLES! And also on to a shocking surprise…
Seriously though, this is getting out of hand. What I thought was a simple inquiry into the use of relics during childbirth has taken me down and strange, strange road. For instance, my friend Jane and I were studying at a coffee shop on Monday when I came across an article called, “A Birth Girdle Printed by Wynkyn de Worde” by authors Joseph Gwara and Mary Morse. Aside from the hilarious reaction I have whenever I see or hear the name Wynkyn de Worde, I nearly choked on my tea when I realized that I was about to read about a TEXTUAL birth girdle. Like, what the fuck?
It turns out that the desire for birth girdles was so strong that printers often created typographical versions, that is, broadsides with prayers, etc. that were meant to be used, and sometimes even worn, as a birth girdle. Keep in mind that the actual girdle was only available to aristocratic women and, if you didn’t make yourself a tertiary relic (by taking your own belt or girdle and making contact with it with the relic), your next best bet was to get yourself a printed one. You could then clutch it, kiss it, or, yes, WEAR IT, for protection in childbirth.
I haven’t finished the article yet but let’s just say that I am utterly FASCINATED with the implications of this in terms of class, availability, and the transference of holy power.