THE SECRETS OF GENERATION: REPRODUCTION IN THE LONG EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
University of Toronto Press, 2015 (584 pages, 42 images)
Edited by Raymond Stephanson and Darren N. Wagner
From theories of conception and concepts of species to museum displays of male genitalia and the politics of breastmilk, The Secrets of Generation is an interdisciplinary examination of the many aspects of reproduction in the eighteenth century.
Exploring the theme of generation from the perspective of histories of medicine, literature, biology, technology, and culture, this collection offers a range of cutting-edge approaches. Its twenty-four contributors, scholars from across Europe and North America, bring an international perspective to discuss reproduction in British, French, American, German, and Italian contexts.
The definitive collection on eighteenth-century generation and its many milieus, The Secrets of Generation will be an essential resource for studying this topic for years to come.
"Raymond Stephanson and Darren N. Wagner have persuaded an extraordinarily knowledgeable and interesting set of contributors to cover a huge range of topics concerning generation and reproduction in the period. It is interdisciplinary and multinational in its interests and emphasis, and it represents the very best of what can be done in the way of simultaneously assessing the state of a field and aggregating original research by some of the most interesting scholars working in the humanities today."
-Jenny Davidson (Columbia University), SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500 - 1900, vol. 56, no. 3 (2016)
“The Secrets of Generation weaves together the many aspects of this broad and multifaceted topic, from sombre and serious treatises to bawdy and satirical works, while never losing sight of the basic ways in which all of the expressions of interest in generation in the long eighteenth century were interrelated, indeed part of one and the same broad historical-cultural development.”
-Justin E.H. Smith (Université Paris Diderot - Paris VII)
"Historians of the period, historians of the subject, and scientists with an interest in the history of reproduction will all gain enormously from reading this collection."
-Matthew Cobb (Manchester University), Isis, vol. 107, no. 4 (2016)
"Stephanson and Wagner’s collection sets the standard for the next generation of reproductive scholarship."
-Barry Reay, (University of Auckland), Canadian Journal of History, vol. 51, no. 3 (2016)
"This book will be essential reading for those interested in the history of reproduction, but any scholar working on the history of the body would do well to consult within its pages."
-Karen Harvey (University of Birmingham), Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol. 91, no. 2 (2017)
"BODY, MIND AND SPIRITS: THE PHYSIOLOGY OF SEXUALITY IN THE CULTURE OF SENSIBILITY," JOURNAL FOR EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY STUDIES
Vol. 39, no. 3 (2016 [first published online July 2015]): 335-358.
Current scholarship recognises both physiology and sexuality as central elements of the eighteenth-century culture of sensibility. But scholars have yet really to explore the physiology of sexuality. Through an interdisciplinary approach this article demonstrates the profound resonance of late seventeenth-century physiological discussions about nerves and animal spirits as the basis for understandings about sexuality and sensibility. Those discussions particularly emphasised specific ways that sex affected the sensible body and rational mind. The physiology of animal spirits – and associated ideas about the body and mind – would underpin representations of sexuality in the art and literature of sensibility in the mid-eighteenth century.
"LEAKY BODIES, BAWDY BOOKS: GONORRHEA AND READING IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY BRITAIN," LITERATURE AND MEDICINE
Vol. 34, no. 2 (2016): 320-340.
In eighteenth-century Britain, reading lewd books was understood to exacerbate gonorrhea. That pathology corresponded to a specific physiological model, which historians describe as the leaky male body. This article demonstrates how the connection between reading and gonorrhea correlated to three phenomena: 1) the neuro-sexual economy of bodily fluids; 2) the effects of reading on the sensible mind and body; and 3) the crossover of erotic and medical literatures. Aware of the physiological power of imagination, authors intentionally wrote to elicit strong physiological and sexual responses in readers. Concerns about the pathological and moral consequences of reading provocative material similarly informed criticisms of both the outright pornographic and the ostensibly medical. Partly in response to such criticisms, medical authors developed a more careful, decorous, and objective tone for writing about sexual topics. Ultimately, the culture of sensibility receded, as did anxieties about involuntary leaks of bodily fluids caused by reading.
"AROUSING APPLICATIONS: SYRINGES AND ANATOMICAL PREPARATIONS OF GENITAL ORGANS IN THE LONG EIGHTEENTH CENTURY,"
BULLETIN OF THE SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENT SOCIETY
Vol. 113 (2012): 4-9.
This article investigates the development of syringes as an anatomical tool, and particularly as a tool used for preparing demonstrations of sexual organs. These instruments became closely associated with the anatomical vocation, playing a key role in the aesthetics of anatomy, the interpretation of anatomical demonstrations, the application of anatomy to medicine, and the cultural evaluation of that discipline and its practices. Toward the latter point, I show the sexual meanings fixed to syringes through their connection with reproductive organs and medicine.
"THE SEXES AND THE SCIENCES,"
JOURNAL FOR EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY STUDIES
Special Issue co-edited with Joanna Wharton
Vol. 42, no. 4 (2019): 397-569
This special issue of Journal for Eighteenth‐Century Studies examines two inseparable and mutually influential themes: how Enlightenment sciences defined the sexes and how the sexes participated in the sciences. Each of the articles presented here addresses these themes in relation to one of a number of specific contexts, which include different national stages – Dutch, English, French and Spanish – and different social settings – provincial philosophical societies, metropolitan royal societies, the Republic of Letters and private households. While most were only then emerging as distinct fields, the scientific topics examined in the following articles include anatomy, medicine, physiology, reproductive technology, chemistry, botany, permutations of early psychology and sociology, and ‘science’ as general knowledge of natural history. The authors of this issue's eight articles use various historical methods and sources – including comparison of scientific, literary and artistic works, tracking of epistolary networks and tracing of institutional practices – to reveal something new about the roles of masculinities, femininities or sexualities in scientific cultures of eighteenth‐century Europe.
As a whole, this special issue offers two conclusions: 1) that scientific understandings of the sexes – male and female – were diverse and debated, contrary to many broad studies of cultural history that have argued for hegemonic shifts in sex difference ushered in by eighteenth‐century science; and 2) that although the prevailing sex of science in most formal institutions and on paper was evidently male, numerous women were prominent and prolific contributors to science as both practitioners and patrons.
“'IMMUNE BOOSTING' IN THE TIME OF COVID: SELLING IMMUNITY ON INSTAGRAM,"
ALLERGY, ASTHMA & CLINICAL IMMUNOLOGY
Vol. 16, no. 76 (2020)
Darren N. Wagner, Alessandro R. Marcon, and Timothy Caulfield
“Immune boosting” is a trending topic during the COVID-19 pandemic. The concept of “immune boosting” is scientifically misleading and often used to market unproven products and therapies. This paper presents an analysis of popular immune-boosting posts from Instagram. Of the sampled posts, all promoted “immune boosting” as beneficial, nearly all involved commercial interests, and many used scientific and medical rhetoric in their messaging.