Vernacular theology: home birth and the Mormon tradition

Blythe, Christine (2018) Vernacular theology: home birth and the Mormon tradition. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This thesis examines the personal experience narratives of Mormon birth workers and mothers who home birth. I argue that embedded in their stories are vernacular beliefs that inform their interpretations of womanhood and broaden their conceptions of Mormon theology. Here I trace the tradition of Mormon midwifery from nineteenth century Mormonism into the present day and explore how some Mormon birth workers’ interpretation of the Mormon past became a means of identity formation and empowerment. I also examine how several recurring motifs reveal how the pain of natural childbirth—either in submission to or in the surmounting of— became a conduit of theological innovations for the women participating in this research. Their stories shed light on and respond to institutional positions on the family and theological ambiguities about woman’s role in the afterlife. Drawing on the language of my contributors, I argue that in birth women are sacralized, opening the door to an expanding (and empowering) image of Mormon womanhood.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 13350
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 121-131).
Keywords: Mormonism, Women, Vernacular, Narrative, Birth, Theology, Midwife, Home birth, Midwife
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: April 2018
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Childbirth--Religious aspects--Mormon Church; Women--Religious aspects--Mormon Church; Mormon midwives.

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