Midwife of An-arché: Toward a Poetics of Becoming-with-Woman

Rowley, Iain (2014) Midwife of An-arché: Toward a Poetics of Becoming-with-Woman. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This project explores the connections between midwifery and the ethical demands
attendant to poetic practice. Through verse and prose, I unfold a figuration of the
midwife that traverses the boundaries between Levinasian heteronomy and
Deleuzian heteromorphism, and is a constitutive factor in sites of resistance to the
biomedical territorialisation of the creative body.
Chief archival and methodological components that inform the thesis include: a
historiography of childbirth - tracing the development of ‘holistic’ and
‘interventionist’ paradigms, and the ideological underpinnings of the phallocratic
takeover of the birthing room in certain Western countries; idiographic insights
gathered from dialogues with maternal practitioners and mothers, including residents
of The Farm in Tennessee - where I participated in a midwifery workshop week; an
experiential inquiry into Holotropic Breathwork - to facilitate access to non-ordinary
states of consciousness; and a negotiation between Marxist-feminist and poststructuralist
articulations of ethico-political agency.
Subject matter ranges from a consideration of the ethical import of the placental
economy to the bio-intelligent tissue of the psoas, the banishment of Anne
Hutchinson from Massachusetts Bay to the legacy of the ‘Twilight Sleep’
movement. Sustained critical attention is devoted to Mina Loy’s “Parturition”, and
contemporary poets that have acknowledged Loy as an influence, such as Lara
Glenum. I suggest that, despite the absence of a birth attendant on the symbolic
level, Loy’s poem resonates with the investments of midwifery, instating a ‘subjectin-
process’ that woks through and against abstruse and instrumental discourses,
defying both the technocratic erasure of maternal knowing and the fetishistic
reduction of labour to an end-product. Art’s capacity for opening up a corporeallycharged
zone of between-ness is further elaborated in an essay on Andrei
Tarkovsky’s Stalker - through which the treatment of spatiotemporality is aligned
with the imperatives of midwifery guardianship.!

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing
Depositing User: Mia Reeves
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2016 13:18
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2016 13:18
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/56847
DOI:

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