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Figuring fertility: Poetics in the cultural practices of reproductive science

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Product Description

By Lisa McDonald

Published: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-921214-83-7
Pages: 236
Imprint: Post Pressed


Figuring Fertility creatively explores the reproductive practices of “non-heterosexual” bodies that make other bodies with scientific or privately negotiated fertility technologies. By presenting original interview narratives of people’s reproductive experiences, as well as discussions with fertility scientists and clinicians, this book renders generative and inventive reproductive practice, while reassessing current identity debates in critical theory, cultural studies, feminist and science philosophies. The book’s narrative basis highlights the complex and varied ways that fertility science can evoke affective and unpredictable directions in people’s lives, and in doing so, critically proposes a posthumanities era of understanding human bodies, knowledge making and critique. Each section is an inspired attempt “To tell … Of bodies … And love” in ways that dissuade common identity models to review the influence of science in contemporary fertility practices and cultural sense-making.  

Never without elisions, this book of parts . . .

It is with intensity that I acknowledge those whose contributions give life to what is proposed here 'in their name,' and the spirited allies who sustain my life, give it shape, and make it happen. If this text should speak, it is because of your hospitality, your generosity and grace.

Lisa McDonald is an interdisciplinary researcher and writer who currently lives in Adelaide, Australia. Over recent years her work has emerged into a fascination with the often fragile yet productive relations between the 'life' sciences and the humanities. In creatively eclectic ways, her contribution to research and education has been exercised through serpentine engagements with cultural theory and philosophy variously applied in the fields of cultural studies, education, media and communication studies. She has, at different times, been active in photo arts and digital media production, drawing on events and stories from everyday life, and has taught extensively in affiliated fields for the University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia, and recently in private sector language education. She will probably always have a cat, and crave a life in Venice.

Table of Contents


Pre Embryo

  • Strategies and foregroundings
  • Textual modes :: developing themes and critical threads
  • Particularities of 'the body'
  • On science and the emergence of 'gender'
  • 'Queer' and 'queer theory'
  • Identity, desire: a narrative
  • Modes of embodiment
  • Proposals

Trimester One: To Tell

  • 'Est-ce sexe? Is that sex?' (one)
  • Alignments
  • Towards a performative spin
  • Sexual(ising) stories :: elaborate acts
  • si[gh]t(e)s/cites and sounds
  • Representational thought and a linguistic turn
  • (re)turn(ing) the turn(ing)
  • (s)(h)e (st)uttered
  • Consuming maternity
  • The (nBl) of a pram :: a shape, a turn, a coupling
  • 'Est-ce sexe? Is that sex?' (two)
  • pause :: (re)wind

Trimester Two: Of Bodies

  • Nucleic visions
  • A smuggling
  • [Dis]articulations
  • Becoming-cell?: natural causes and a switching
  • Outlines :: a genealogy of essence-and-hint
  • Lingua franca (one): elements of a new romance?
  • Lingua franca (two): a sound(ing)
  • Pause: 'replicate'

Trimester Three: And Love

  • My so strange roots: a gospel according to 'Eve'
  • My goodness! Are you . . . ?
  • A coming
  • On what to ruin now
  • Another meandering
  • Pause: 'unwork'

Push: On What Is Workable Now





In rethinking fertility, Lisa McDonald examines the emergence of new forms of embodiment and sociality as they relate to queer lives, new reproductive technologies and parenting. Drawing on a wide range of debates in cultural studies, feminist theory, queer theory, science studies and philosophy, this text engages with scientists, clinicians and queer parents to present a view of fertility that is intercorporeal, that shows how queer bodies live in intimate relation with others to produce viable and creative forms of kinship. In pushing the debates forward, taking risks and experimenting with rich interview dialogues, this text exposes how reproductive science generates an excess of meaning and possibility in everyday life. It is an inspired text which shows a great deal of passion for scholarship. An exceptional piece of work.

Sara Ahmed,
Professor in Race and Cultural Studies, Department of Media and Communications,
Goldsmiths, University of London

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