Title: As/Saying Architecture: a Ficto-spatial Essay of Lying-in
Author: Emma Cheatle
In: ‘Writing / Architecture‘, Special Issue of Text Journal, Issue 55
Abstract: Through an exposé of my research, ‘The Architecture of Lying-in: From the Dark and Airless Room to the Hospital for Women’, this paper explores creative-critical methods of writing architectural history. Until the 1740s, women in England gave birth in the bedroom, which was refashioned for the occasion as a dark, internalised space, the ‘lying-in chamber’. Around this time, the rise of the man- midwife and instruments such as maternal forceps heralded the lying-in hospital, the first specialist hospital overall, yet few architectural descriptions of it exist, nor of the maternal domestic space it challenged. Here, I examine the home and the first London lying-in hospital by drawing on a range of sources such as architectural plans, midwifery manuals and treatises, maps, novels and political writings. Developing a text that plies between essay and fiction, I critically reconstruct the architecture of lying-in.