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Infertility : Tracing the History of a Transformative Term (Paperback) (Robin E. Jensen)
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Infertility explores the arguments, appeals, and narratives that have defined the meaning of infertility in the modern history of the United States and Europe. Throughout the last century, the inability of women to conceive children has been explained by discrepant views: that women are individually culpable for their own reproductive health problems, or that they require the intervention of medical experts to correct abnormalities. Using primary sources such as doctor-patient correspondence and oral histories, as well as contemporaneous popular and scientific news coverage, Robin Jensen parses the often thin rhetorical divide between moralization and medicalization and shows how dominating explanations for infertility have emerged from seemingly competing narratives.
The first longitudinal account of the medicalization of infertility in the United States and Europe, Jensen’s book is also the first rhetorical analysis that traces the transformation of language surrounding infertility from “barrenness” to “(in)fertility.” This innovative study illustrates the ways in which old arguments and appeals do not disappear in the light of new information, but instead reemerge at subsequent, often seemingly disconnected moments to combine and contend with newer assertions. Infertility does not simply explicate how language was and is used to establish the concept of infertility, but shows how those rhetorical constructions continue to have implications for individuals and the societies in which they live.