SYNTHETIC CONCEPTION: ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF REPRODUCTION AND FAMILY IN NINETEENTH AND TWENTIETH CENTURY AMERICA ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION Synthetic Conception: Artificial Insemination and the Transformation of Reproduction and Family in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century America

Bridget Gurtler, Bridget Gurtler, Keith Wailoo
2013 unpublished
The dissertation examines the development of assisted reproduction in American medicine and culture between the first reported use of artificial insemination in the late eighteenth century and the birth of the modern cryobanking industry at the end of the twentieth century. It focuses on artificial insemination, the first "assisted reproductive" technology, in a wide range of historical contexts-eighteenth century gynecological practices, nineteenth century clinics, early twentieth century
more » ... ntieth century eugenics movements, post World War II veterans hospitals, and the first fertility clinics to offer cryopreservation services in the late twentieth century. Tracing the evolution of technology in such varied medical and social arenas reveals that its research and practice expanded in moments of moral, sexual, and family panic-in the wake of wars, demographic upheaval, and national uncertainty. It also establishes that concerns about marriage, hereditary health, patient privacy, and the connection between social and biological relatedness were concerns for actors across eras as they intervened in reproductive sex as was the perception that medical science offered new technological solutions to infertility. Finally, in contrast to contemporary scholarly arguments that privilege in vitro fertilization and the birth control pill the project shows that by transferring intimate acts iii of conception into physician's offices artificial insemination made critical contributions to the medicalization and consumerization of reproduction. Using the history of artificial insemination as a lens this project speaks to scholarship on reproduction by offering an analysis of how gender, race, and sexuality influenced the growth of a medical market in fertility and the ability to regulate it. Following the gendered politics of science and reproduction as they manifest in this unique, albeit low-tech, technology this dissertation contributes to the history of reproductive science by tracing the developing contours of the scientific study of sperm. Doing so not only enables the insertion of men's reproductive bodies into the history of reproduction and its technologies but also provides a window into the collaborations between industrial chemistry, experimental biology, and reproductive medicine as they sought to safely freeze, store, and thaw human and animal sperm. Finally, the dissertation provides critical insights into the changing understandings and technological transformations of modern families. Analyzing controversies over AI in popular, bio-medical, and political spheres demonstrates that the control of conception was an important locus by which authorities and individuals understood what made a family, while also revealing the remarkable fluidity of the concept of "family" throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. iv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
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