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Modern Languages Research Seminar

"Narrating Cryptic Pregnancy in Contemporary Women's Writing in French"

Museum in Paris

An hour long seminar delivered by Dr Julie Ann Rodgers, Lecturer in French, Maynooth University, Ireland.

This paper will demonstrate how fictional accounts of denied pregnancy can improve our understanding of this condition, most notably from the perspective of the new mother and, in turn, have the potential to inform a patient-centred approach to care and recovery. More broadly, this paper will signal the importance of interaction between the Arts and the Medical Sciences in terms of better developing the field of narrative medicine.

  • From: Tuesday 20 November 2018, 1 pm
  • To: Tuesday 20 November 2018, 2 pm
  • Location: Room ABK 015, Ada Byron King Building, Nottingham Trent University, Clifton Lane, Nottingham NG11 8NS,
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Event details


Textual representations of pregnancy more often than not focus on the unique experience of embodiment during the gestation period: the Kristevan two-in-one subject, the sense of doubling; the push and pull between embryo and host, feelings of attachment and detachment; the physical symptoms of pregnancy. Even when the pregnancy does not reach full-term and no living infant is born from the mother whether that be due to voluntary or involuntary factors, the experience remains one that is primarily marked by a sense of having embodied something.

The same is true of infertility narratives where women recount their experience of not being able to bear a child and alongside this, the various invasive fertility treatments that many of them undergo, in terms of felt, known, and lived physical sensation. If embodiment is our overriding image of pregnancy, how, then, do we articulate and respond to deviant trajectories – disembodied pregnancies where there are no physical signs whatsoever of the developing foetus, neither to the woman concerned nor to her external environment, medical authorities included?

Such are the circumstances of ‘denied pregnancy’, a phenomenon that remains poorly understood by the medical sciences and which is the focus of Isabelle Pandazopolus’s novel La Décision (The Decision) published in 2013.


Julie received her PhD from Trinity College Dublin where she completed a thesis on the mother-daughter relationship in Quebec women’s writing. Since then, she has been lecturer in French at Maynooth University, Ireland.

She is currently president of ACSI (Association of Canadian Studies in Ireland) and secretary of ADEFFI (Association des études françaises et francophones en Irlande). She has published numerous articles and chapters on representations on mothers, mothering and motherhood and is currently working towards a monograph examining maternal counternarratives in contemporary women’s writing and film in French. She is also interested in Quebec literature and culture. Along with Dr Elise Hugueny-Léger (St. Andrew's), Julie is currently co-editing a special issue of the Irish Journal of French Studies on narratives of parental mourning in contemporary French literature and film which will be published in 2019.

Location details


Room ABK 015, Ada Byron King Building, Nottingham Trent University, Clifton Lane, Nottingham NG11 8NS


Parking for external visitors is available on Clifton Campus. Please arrive via the main entrance where you will be directed by the gate staff.

Past event

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