Renee Cramer, a respected socio-legal scholar, will give a talk on her recent book, Pregnant with the Stars.
What is the meaning of our cultural obsession with celebrity baby bumps? Pregnant with the Stars examines the American fascination with, and judgment of, celebrity pregnancy, and exposes how our seemingly innocent interest in "baby bumps" actually reinforces troubling standards about femininity, race, and class, while increasing the surveillance and regulation of all women in our society. The book charts how the American understanding of pregnancy has changed over time, by examining pop culture coverage of the pregnant celebrity body. Cramer shows how those stories can provide a paparazzi-style lens through which we can interpret a complex set of social and legal regulation of pregnant women.
Cultural ideas like the "rockin' post-baby body" are not only unattainable; they are a means of social control. Combining cultural and legal analysis, Pregnant with the Stars uncovers a world where pregnant celebrities are governed and controlled alongside the recent, and troubling, proliferation of restrictive laws aimed at women in the realm of reproductive justice and freedom. Cramer asks each reader and cultural consumer to recognize that the seeing, judging, and discussion of the "baby bump" isn't merely frivolous celebrity gossip—it is an act of surveillance, commodification, and control.
Renee Cramer is Professor and Chair of Law, Politics, and Society at Drake University. Pregnant with the Stars is her second book. She is currently working on a project mapping the regulation of home-birth midwifery in the United States, funded by the National Science Foundation. Committed to undergraduate legal studies education, she teaches a wide range of courses - including Reproductive Law and Politics, and Critical Race and Feminist Theory - and serves as president of the national Consortium of Undergraduate Law and Justice Programs.
This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies, Michele Goodwin's Law School Health Policy Center, the Center for Law, Society and Culture and the Department of Criminology, Law and Society.