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Modernist ObjectsLiterature, Art, Culture$
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Noëlle Cuny and Xavier Kalck

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781949979503

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781949979503.001.0001

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Tradition and the Test-Tube Baby

Tradition and the Test-Tube Baby

(p.79) Chapter Four Tradition and the Test-Tube Baby
Modernist Objects

Rachel Bowlby

Liverpool University Press

This chapter considers a modernist juxtaposition of scientific creativity and creative science, the focal point of which is the persistence of the hybrid expression “test-tube baby” to designate possible or actual results of new reproductive technologies. This phrase encapsulates the jarring and juxtaposition of different descriptive and performative levels, as twentieth-century technologies imagined and sometimes achieved the mutation of human reproduction into a matter of careful chemistry. The new art-science of psychoanalysis conceptualized human mentalities in the language and the transformational logic of chemistry. Writers often likened their own effects or modes of production to quasi-scientific procedures for making the new, whether flamboyantly “experimental” or studiedly lab-based. The chapter concentrates in particular on passages from the work of T.S. Eliot, Aldous Huxley, and Virginia Woolf.

Keywords:   IVF, reproductive technologies, test-tube baby, chemistry, laboratory, experiment, T.S. Eliot, Aldous Huxley, Virginia Woolf, Freud

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