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Thursday, 4 August 2011

Exhibition of interest in Cambridge

Organised by the group whose conference I attended and enjoyed back in April:

Books & Babies: Communicating Reproduction 
7 July–23 December 2011
(Closed 29 August and 12–18 September inclusive)
Monday-Friday 09.00-18.00, Saturday 09.00-16.30, Sunday closed
Admission Free

The London underground displays posters for fertility clinics, directed
at both women and men. Picture books teach children the facts of life.
We are always reading about reproduction. Reproduction also describes
what communication media do — multiply images, sounds and text for wider
consumption. This exhibition is about these two senses of reproduction,
about babies and books, and the ways in which they have interacted in
the past and continue to interact today.

Before reproduction there was generation, a broader view of how all
things come into being than the fusion of egg and sperm. Before
electronic media there were clay figurines, papyrus, parchment, printed
books and journals. The interactions between communication media and
ideas about reproduction have transformed the most intimate aspects of
our lives.

/Books and Babies/ traces these interactions from ancient fertility
figures and medieval manuscripts to the birth of Louise Brown following
in vitro fertilization in 1978. The media sensation that surrounded her
arrival illustrates how modern reproductive ‘miracles’ have been
publicised worldwide. The research with Patrick Steptoe and Jean Purdy
that led Robert Edwards to win the Nobel Prize reveals the varied roles
of communication within and around the laboratory.

The exhibition opens with a chronological story of the books and other
objects that have been central to communicating reproduction from
ancient times to the present day. We move from theories of human
generation to the modern dilemmas of reproductive choice and population
control, and from handwritten documents to digital media. Other elements
pursue particular themes: communication in reproductive research, the
long life of a single advice manual (/Aristotle’s Masterpiece/), the
evolutionary epic of the ‘Ascent of Man’, ‘Extraordinary Births’ as
news, and the rise of ‘Population Arithmetick’. 
Funded by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award in the History of Medicine on
'Generation to Reproduction'

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