The Palgrave Handbook of Infertility in History

Approaches, Contexts and Perspectives

  • Gayle Davis
  • Tracey Loughran

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Defining the ‘Problem’: Perspectives on Infertility

  3. The Body Politic and the Infertile Body

  4. Situating Infertility in Medicine

  5. Agency and Invisibility in Constructions of Infertility

  6. Reproductive Technologies and Imagined Futures

  7. Back Matter
    Pages 625-663

About this book


This ground-breaking, interdisciplinary volume provides an overdue assessment of how infertility has been understood, treated and experienced in different times and places. It brings together scholars from disciplines including history, literature, psychology, philosophy, and the social sciences to create the first large-scale review of recent research on the history of infertility. Through exploring an unparalleled range of chronological periods and geographical regions, it develops historical perspectives on an apparently transhistorical experience. It shows how experiences of infertility, access to treatment, and medical perspectives on this ‘condition’ have been mediated by social, political, and cultural discourses. The handbook reflects on and interrogates different approaches to the history of infertility, including the potential of cross-disciplinary perspectives and the uses of different kinds of historical source material, and includes lists of research resources to aid teachers and researchers. It is an essential ‘go-to’ point for anyone interested in infertility and its history. 



infertility involuntary childlessness reproduction reproductive technology IVF artificial insemination sexuality medicalization feminism ethics

Editors and affiliations

  • Gayle Davis
    • 1
  • Tracey Loughran
    • 2
  1. 1.School of History, Classics and ArchaeologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  2. 2.Department of HistoryUniversity of EssexColchesterUK

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-1-137-52079-1
  • Online ISBN 978-1-137-52080-7
  • Buy this book on publisher's site