Author Talk: Michelle Millar Fisher and Amber Winick

MIT Press Live! presents an author talk with Michelle Millar Fisher and Amber Winick, authors of Designing Motherhood

About the book

While birth often brings great joy, making babies is a knotty enterprise. The designed objects that surround us when it comes to menstruation, birth control, conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood vary as oddly, messily, and dramatically as the stereotypes suggest. This smart, image-rich, fashion-forward, and design-driven book explores more than eighty designs—iconic, conceptual, archaic, titillating, emotionally charged, or just plain strange—that have defined the relationships between people and babies during the past century.

Designing Motherhood cover

Each object tells a story. In striking images and engaging text, Designing Motherhood unfolds the compelling design histories and real-world uses of the objects that shape our reproductive experiences. The authors investigate the baby carrier, from the Snugli to BabyBjörn, and the (re)discovery of the varied traditions of baby wearing; the tie-waist skirt, famously worn by a pregnant Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy, and essential for camouflaging and slowly normalizing a public pregnancy; the home pregnancy kit, and its threat to the authority of male gynecologists; and more. Memorable images—including historical ads, found photos, and drawings—illustrate the crucial role design and material culture plays throughout the arc of human reproduction.

"A first-of-its-kind exploration of the arc of human reproduction through the lens of design." —The Guardian

About the authors

Michelle Millar Fisher, a curator and architecture and design historian, is Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She lectures frequently on design, people, and the politics of things.

Amber Winick is a writer, design historian, and recipient of two Fulbright Awards. She has lived, researched, and written about family and child-related designs, policies, and practices around the world.


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