1. According to Gibson, what parts of the pregnant body and childbearing experience were off limits to the male gaze?
2. You’ve got to love the Middle Ages: who was Silence in the Roman de Silence?
3. Why is “lateral imagining” necessary and what are the types of texts that help historians piece together our knowledge of medieval childbirth?
4. What do Virginia Woolf, women’s bodies, the patriarchy, and performance have in common? Work with me here!
5. How do the ceremonial birthing trays function both as a witness to and mediator of the enclosed birthing rooms?
6. What do the inscriptions on the birthing tray in the Metropolitan Museum connote? Does the iconography of the obverse of this salver reinforce the male-female dialectic that we have been discussing in this course?
7. Discuss the origins of the word “gossip!” What are the parallels between the midwife and the clergy?
8. Why was the performance of the Nativity so compelling? What does Gibson mean by the theological gynecology of Mary as a recurrent spectacle in the N-Town cycle? In what way is this performance a transgression of gender boundaries?
9. How does Joseph cross the gender boundaries in art?
10. What role does the doubting midwife play in the “gender wars?”
11. In the end, the Virgin’s body remains a contested site, one that experiences true labor pains at the foot of the Cross as she experiences the loss of her son. Some would argue that all pregnant bodies are contested sites, privy to certain secrets (the quickening!), etc. What do you think about the state of pregnancy today?