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Lunchtime seminar: David Geiringer ‘Catholicism, contraception and emotions in post-war England’

Wednesday 17th January, 2018

1pm, 2.17, Arts Two

In the first lunchtime seminar of 2018, QMUL’s David Geiringer will give a paper titled ‘Catholicism, contraception and emotions in post-war England’. Lunch will be provided and all are welcome.


Since its emergence in the middle of the twentieth century, the exhausted and highly theorised Catholic birth control debate has been dominated by abstracted, theological argumentation. Contraception had always been deemed ‘intrinsically evil’ by the Catholic Church, but the introduction of the Pill in 1961 led many to believe this teaching would be overturned. Despite a secretive Papal Commission recommending the Church change its teaching, Pope Paul VI reaffirmed the prohibition of birth control in 1968. The case for change that this Papal Commission for Birth Control presented to the Pope approached the subject in an intellectualised manner which placed little emphasis on the testimony of individual Catholic women. My research seeks to redress this convention, providing Catholic women with the opportunity to speak about their experiences and understandings of sexuality during the post-war years. In this paper, I suggest that oral history’s capacity to uncover the emotional and experiential components of these contraceptive decisions can provide a unique intervention in existing discussions about birth control within the Catholic community. In recognising the formative role of emotion in driving contraceptive behaviour, we can help rethink the way sexual morality is framed within the Catholic community.  

The talk will take place in room 2.17, Arts Two, Mile End Campus, London E1 4NS. For directions to Mile End and a campus map, see bit.ly/QMcampusmap.

See our events programme for information about other seminars this term.