Chapter 1: Monstrous Births

Throughout history, monstrous births have been interpreted as signs of specific parental (and especially maternal) sins or general communal failings. Maternal impression theory in particular linked a mother’s emotions and experiences to her child’s malformations. Monstrous birth narratives from the 1960s-1980s continued the tradition of maternal impression but also indicted fatherhood and social problems. Later texts, however, have returned to a form of maternal impression that sees monstrous children as the fitting offspring of equally monstrous mothers afflicted by “baby hunger.” The challenges posed by second-wave feminism and advancements in reproductive technologies led to the creation of father-focused monstrous birth stories as well. Antichrist narratives and tales about mad scientists and their brainchildren brought attention back to the power of paternity.