From the Breast: Interpretations and Representations of Breastfeeding and Infant Feeding in Pre-Modern Cultures

Date / time: 10 October - 5 December, 12:00 am

From the Breast: Interpretations and Representations of Breastfeeding and Infant Feeding in Pre-Modern Cultures


Call for Papers, deadline – 20 September 2022

How is breastfeeding represented or not represented in the art and literature of different cultures? How does it reflect and what role does it play in cultural values, traditions, and rituals?

This hybrid in-person and online seminar series and workshop at the University of Birmingham explore pre-modern perspectives on breastfeeding and infant feeding. Topics of presentations may include but are not limited to:

  • Symbolic use of breastfeeding, including symbolic substitutes
  • Cultural perspectives on the female body in relation to infant feeding
  • Appearance and use of breastfeeding and infant feeding in ritual, story, myth, and art
  • Beliefs regarding the power and significance of infant feeding and breastfeeding

Each hour-long seminar will consist of two 20-minute paper presentations along with discussion. Seminars will take place the weeks of 10th and 24th of October, 7th and 21st of November, and 5th of December. The workshop, including the roundtable and discussion groups, will take place early 2023. PGT, PGR and PhD students as well as early career researchers are all invited to submit their abstracts for this seminar series

While the seminar series will have a rolling deadline for abstract submissions for the later seminars, we request those wishing to present in the October seminars submit their abstracts by 20 September 2022. Along with your abstract please include if you intend to present in-person or virtually, as well as if you are unavailable for any of the seminar dates.

Please send abstracts of 250-300 words to:

Cannon Fairbairn, University of Birmingham – Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership
Agni Agathi Papamichael, University of Birmingham – Cyprus State Scholarship Foundation

With each presenter’s permission, each seminar will be recorded and uploaded to the series’s YouTube page for later review by participants and attendees. Presenters will also have the opportunity to submit their paper from this seminar series for consideration in a dedicated publication for the seminar and workshop.

For more information, please visit:

Image: Francisco de Zurbarán – Madonna with Child (1598-1664)