A Question of Identity: Women, Science, and Literature

By Marina Benjamin | Go to book overview

Conceiving Difference: Reproductive Technology and the Construction of Identity in Two Contemporary Fictions

Susan Squier

In the current situation, the body is a technological object. An object of technical operations the number and scope of which will increase in the years ahead. Think of bio-medicine, bio-engineering, all imaginable prostheses, genetic surgery. Ten days ago I was involved in a discussion with a bio-medic who was saying . . . that in 15 years it will not be necessary for women to bear their children: the whole period of gestation could take place in vitro.

Jean-François Lyotard1

What we must learn, then, is how to conceive difference without opposition.

Craig Owens2

"What is the unconscious of a child engendered in vitro? What is its relationship with the mother, and with the father?" asked Jean- François Lyotard in 1985, speaking at London's Institute for Contemporary Arts. 3 The image of technologized conception and birth has achieved remarkable cultural prominence in the last decade of the twentieth century, figuring in such films as Blade Runner and Look Who's Talking, as well as in mass-market fiction and the popular press. The very fact that the image has such cultural centrality suggests that it functions not as a settled understanding of the self in creation, but as an unsettling source of questions about the meaning of the new identity brought about by that technologized creation. As such, the image

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