Dr. Rachel Chrastil examines the causes and interpretations of childlessness
By Andrew Zerman | Guest Writer
After six years of research, Xavier professor Dr. Rachel Chrastil produced her third book, and despite its being on the market for only a month, it has received high praise.
Dr. Rachel Chrastil is a professor of European history and an associate dean at Xavier. This is not her first published work, but it is her first text on the subject of childlessness.
The book, titled How to Be Childless: A History and Philosophy of Life Without Children, discusses women in Europe who are of childbearing age but do not have children from a historical perspective.
In the text, she examines the causes, differing interpretations and experiences of childlessness in modern Western countries. The book was published on Aug. 28.
Besides being a professor of European history, her inspiration for writing the book was to address the many misconceptions about childlessness.
Chrastil said that childlessness is a condition that has been around for a long time. In other words, it is just a condition of being a human being.
Chastril said she also wanted to communicate the message that there are many different ways that people can live their lives. Childlessness is one of them.
Chrastil hopes that this book will help address a persistent stigma in a society where women are expected to carry children, as well as for women to think about having children without the negative influence that society may have on their decision.
In her words, the hardest part of writing the book was the information gathering stage, which is common in writing nonfiction books..
She had to find accounts of women who were in Europe, many of whom were people she did not know beforehand. She ultimately used autobiographies and archives to help her with this task.
The book, Chrastil said, has messages that can be important for anyone. But her primary audience is for women in their 30s who are considering having children.
Chrastil’s book and accompanying work on childlessness has made appearances in The Washington Post, Psychology Today and the podcast Think Act Be.
Chrastil said that having children is also a process that can cause confusion and uncertainty at times. She hopes that her book will help people learn that reproduction is complicated and people in general should be more forgiving of each other.
This book joins her previous texts, Organizing for War: France, 1870-1914 and The Siege of Strasbourg, which describes the effects of international conflicts on civilians.
In addition to this research, Chrastil helped found the first-year seminar program in 2015 and currently teaches classes at Xavier about Paris, World War I and the French Revolution.
In 2015 she was awarded the Roger A. Fortin Award for Outstanding Teaching and Scholarship in the Humanities.
Chrastil received her Ph.D. from Yale University and her B.A. from Indiana University, as well as spending time studying at the Université de Provence in France.
How to Be Childless: A History and Philosophy of Life Without Children is available for purchase on Amazon and various other book retailers.