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Pregnancy as protest in interwar British women's writing: an antecedent alternative to Aldous Huxley's Brave New World
  1. Fran Bigman
  1. Correspondence to Dr Fran Bigman, Keio University, 503 Lupinas, 20-1 Kitamachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-0834, Japan; franbigman{at}gmail.com

Abstract

Accounts that take Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932) as representative of interwar reproductive dystopia fail to recognise that the novel expresses both an interest and an anxiety about the possibility of new reproductive technologies to transform sex, gender, and the family that were widely shared by writers in different genres and perhaps expressed best by those likely to be most affected: women. This article explores three earlier works—Charlotte Haldane's Man's World (1926), Vera Brittain's Halcyon, or the Future of Monogamy (1929), and Naomi Mitchison's Comments on Birth Control (1930)—in which pregnancy, instead of figuring as illness or debility, becomes a form of resistance to the status quo. These works engage with biomedicine, however, rather than abjuring it. Through a reading of these works, this article argues that the intersection of medical humanities and science fiction (SF) can enrich both: medical humanities can push SF to go beyond the canon, and SF can challenge any characterisation of literature in the medical humanities as purely fantastical by demonstrating how it responds to the hopes and anxieties of a particular time.

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