Trinity Term 2014 Seminar Series
At: The Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine
Seminar Room, 47 Banbury Road, Oxford
Coffee is available from 2.00pm – Seminars begin at 2.15pm prompt
‘Reproduction, Gender, and Sexuality in the History of Medicine’
Conveners: Marisa Benoit and Julianne Weis
Week 6 – 2 June
Gayle Davis, University of Edinburgh
Bulls, Baseness and Bunk: Medical Responses to Female Infertility in Mid-Twentieth-century Scotland
This paper will explore how the infertile patient was characterised and treated by the medical profession in mid-twentieth-century Scotland. Such was the concern that this subject engendered at this time that a Departmental Committee was appointed (1958) to investigate infertility and its treatment through artificial insemination. Medical testimony to that Committee, as well as clinical records from the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh out-patient infertility clinic, give rich insights into medical thinking and practice, and into the complex social politics and anxieties which surrounded the topic more broadly. It will be considered how women’s bodies, personalities, and agency in proactively seeking motherhood, were heavily pathologised in these discourses, but also how the men involved – both husbands and sperm donors, and even the doctors in charge of proceedings – did not escape this tendency to pathologisation.
Gayle Davis is a senior lecturer in the history of medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and Chair of the Society for the Social History of Medicine. She has published extensively on the history of sexuality and reproductive health in twentieth-century Scotland, including The Cruel Madness of Love’: Sex, Syphilis and Psychiatry in Scotland, 1880-1930, and the recent book (with Roger Davidson), The Sexual State: Sexuality and Scottish Governance, 1950-80 (Edinburgh University Press, 2012), which was shortlisted for the National Library of Scotland Scottish Research Book of the Year Award, and comes out in paperback this summer.
Please note there is no parking at the Unit