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Infertilities: Exploring Fictions of Barren Bodies

Robin Truth Goodman
Volume: 4
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In today’s global market, ideas about family, femininity, and reproduction are traded on as actively as any currency or stock. The connection has a history, one rooted in a conception of feminine identities invented through a science interwoven with the pursuit of empire, the accumulation of goods, and the furtherance of power. It is this history that Robin Truth Goodman exposes in her provocative analysis of literary and political representations of female infertility from the mid-nineteenth century to our day._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9104-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)

    In the nineteenth century, evolutionary sciences brought to the forefront of scientific investigation interspecial crossings as the dominant factor in adaptive biological change. Earlier, following on the work of Linnaeus, species were classified according to their reproductive affinities and whether they could produce fertile offspring. Darwin’s observations in the field of domestic breeding reconsidered, as permeable, the reproductive barriers that had previously defined the parameters of species but did not completely do away with them. “We must, therefore,” Darwin asserted, “either give up the belief of the universal sterility of the species when crossed; or we must look at this...

  6. Darwin’s Dating Game
    (pp. 1-44)

    In its 8 March 1997 issue,Sciencepublished an article by Julien Thomas entitled “The Mystery of the Missing Penis.” In it, Thomas describes a recent biological discovery: certain species of birds, through evolutionary processes, have lost their penises. The reason for this anatomical distinction in birds is, he concludes, “because females prefer them without it.” According to Thomas’s surprisingly literal citation of a long–since refuted sociobiological model, such a female bird, “in order to maximize her reproductive fitness ... wants to choose the best sperm.... Females have most control over males without an organ. So, the researchers reason,...

  7. Conrad’s Closet
    (pp. 45-92)

    Critics have debated, in relation to Joseph Conrad’s 1913 novelChance, whether or not Mrs. Fyne, the cross–dressing feminist who rescues the protagonist Flora from the evil manipulations of her governess, is a lesbian. For example, Wilfred Dowden describes Mrs. Fyne as an obvious “virago,” more than a simple caricature of a suffragette, because of her “unnatural” relationship, an “almost lover-like attraction,” to the “girlfriends” (150–51), and C. B. Cox contends that Mrs. Fyne is filled with a “lesbian fury” when she tries to obstruct Flora’s marriage to her brother Anthony. In his introduction toChance, Alfred Kazin...

  8. Carpentier’s Marvelous Conception
    (pp. 93-134)

    In Cuba, as well as in Latin America generally, the idea of racial mixture, originated in conquest and colonialism, has been the center of political and revolutionary speculations since the early nineteenth century. A century ago, José Marti envisioned a philosophy of nation through an image of sexual union across races, emblematized in “nuestra América mestiza”: “With the rosary as our guide, our heads white and our bodies mottled, boy Indian and Creole, we fearlessly entered the world of nations” (88). Following Marti, the eminent social and cultural critic Roberto Fernández Retamar transformed the image into other scenes of national...

  9. Mario Vargas Llosa and the Rape of Sebastiana
    (pp. 135-164)

    In 1990, novelist, essayist, and dermatologist Mario Vargas Llosa ran for president of Peru. For the coalition of party interests that he formed to support his candidacy and his program for economic and political reform, he coined the name “Libertad.” Starting as a broad–based reaction against then–president Alan García’s proposals to nationalize the Peruvian banking system in 1987, Libertad fashioned an agenda of economic neoliberalization. This involved the curtailment of state intervention in the market, ending theassistentialismo(nepotism) on all levels of the state bureaucracy, and themodernizatiónof the domestic economy through its realignment within a...

  10. The Rainforest Rape
    (pp. 165-188)

    On Sunday, 31 May 1992, Paulinho Paiakan, the world-renowned environmentalist activist of the Kaiapó in Brazil, allegedly raped and mutilated, and then attempted to strangle with barbed wire the seventeen-year-old white schoolgirl Silvia Letícia da Luz Ferreira, Paiakan’s next–door neighbor and the baby–sitter and tutor of his children.¹ Rob Buchanan, a correspondent forDetailsmagazine, reports that “the girl claimed that after actively assisting her husband’s aggression, Irekran [Paiakan’s wife] had raped her again, putting her hands together in the shape of a cone and penetrating her until ‘something tore’” (47).²

    On 10 June, Brazil’s weekly newspaperVeja³...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 189-194)

    It is not surprising today to say that the family is a problem. It’s what my students tell me, what I read in the newspapers, what the politicians say, and what I see at the movies. A recent movie like8MMdrives the point home, so to speak, although many current mainstream as well as art films seem to repeat the same message. The main character’s (Nicholas Cage) forays into the underground worlds and sordid cultures of snuff film production end up provoking the bloodthirsty pornographers into a counterattack against his family. Worried, he incessantly calls his wife, even in...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 195-210)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 211-230)
  14. Index
    (pp. 231-234)