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Chronoi Talks: “Inducing Menstruation in Imperial Rome” (Online)

Dr. Kassandra J. Miller

February 15, 2024

3 - 4 pm (CET)

Dr. Kassandra J. Miller

This talk will present a paper that explores Greco-Roman constructions of the menstruating body as a timepiece - one that can both mark regular "periods" and be medically "reset" when it fails to do so. Scholars such as Lesley Dean-Jones and Helen King have explored how the Hippocratics understood delayed or absent menses to be responsible for a panoply of ailments and how they proposed a range of therapies to “reset” menstruators’ biological clocks, typically by inducing menstruation. This paper picks up the conversation in the Roman Imperial period, tracing the contours of debates among physicians over which menstrual manipulation techniques were most effective and least harmful: the astringent pessaries and ingestibles of “the ancients” or certain newfangled methods, like bloodletting or superficial scarring?

The paper also attempts to read against the grain of such elite, male discourse to catch glimpses of menstruators’ lived experiences and the choices available to them (and their guardians). On the one hand, it asks how techniques of menstrual induction might have been used to control menstruators’ bodies and temporal experiences. On the other, it explores how and why menstruators themselves might have pursued such techniques to exercise agency over their own body clocks.

Participants can join the online Chronoi Talk by clicking on the following link:

The conference room can be accessed using the following methods:

  • Joining directly in your browser; simply click the link above, and look for a button with this option near the bottom of the webpage.

  • Downloading the program to your computer (instructions can be found by following the meeting link)

  • Using the smartphone app called “Cisco Webex Meetings."

You are welcome to enter the online conference room up to 15 minutes in advance of the start time.

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