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Medical Humanism or Scientia Sexualis?: Building a Sexological Concept in Fécondité

Duffy, Larry (2021) Medical Humanism or Scientia Sexualis?: Building a Sexological Concept in Fécondité. Nottingham French Studies, 60 (3). pp. 317-333. ISSN 0029-4586. (doi:10.3366/nfs.2021.0328) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:95410)

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DOI for this version: 10.3366/nfs.2021.0328
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This article argues that Zola’s Fécondité, superficially a didactic roman à thèse articulating populationist concerns, is in fact a roman de mœurs implicated genealogically in contemporary sexological concerns. Exploiting the flexibility of contemporary notions of impotence, frigidity and sterility, Fécondité participates in the production of a key sexological concept through the malleable motif of female sexual coldness – signifier of pathological conditions named as ‘frigidité’, ‘froideur’, etc. – and its polyvalent application to distinct pathologies manifesting in its female characters: inabilities to desire, to conceive, to climax. Fécondité appears at a moment where absence of (now normalised) women’s sexual pleasure counts as a pathological disorder; it deploys tropes of coldness –consequential upon anti-reproductive practices – to suggest that attempted disruption of the natural reproductive order ensures such disordered absence. Readable as didactic expression of ‘humanistic’ natalist ethics, Fécondité articulates a coalescence of sexological and populationist concerns, thus straddling two major fin-de-siècle discursive economies.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.3366/nfs.2021.0328
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PB Modern Languages
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Larry Duffy
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2022 09:20 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2022 10:53 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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