From ‘Fructification’ to ‘Insemination’: Nomenclature and the Practice of Artificial Insemination

  • Bridget GurtlerEmail author


From the first reports of its use, artificial insemination has generated complex debates about gender, sexuality, and race. Since the nineteenth century, gynaecologists, biologists, natural philosophers, and social commentators have struggled to understand both the anatomical structure and biological processes of (un)reproductive bodies and what ‘artificially’ assisting conception (‘fructification’) means for families. By tracing the evolution of nomenclature about the procedure in the United Kingdom, France, and the USA, this chapter argues that for more than two centuries, ‘artificial insemination’ has been relentlessly embroiled in questions about the biological and social basis of gender, integrally bound to the movement of knowledge between scientific and lay audiences, a battleground for power between reproductive specialists, and a key site for debates about heredity and the importance of marriage to society.


Artificial insemination Eugenics Marriage Reproductive bodies 

Research Resources

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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