Pill and Pen: Contraception and Unwanted Pregnancy in Literature and Popular Culture

News & Events

March 7-9, 2014

Overview

This symposium explores the discourses of birth control in (recent) fiction and film from around the world as well as in artifacts of popular culture. It examines the way these questions are shaped imaginatively in different genres and attempts to view these discourses as expressions of social and cultural conflicts negotiated around the globe. The comparative and international perspective is a key aspect of the conference.

The way these questions are shaped imaginatively in different genres and attempts to view these discourses as expressions of social and cultural conflicts negotiated around the globe.

The comparative and international perspective is a key aspect of the conference. 

There will be two keynote lectures:

  1. Shelley Chan on the Chinese one-child policy in the works of Nobel laureate Mo Yan. Shelley Chan is a Professor of Chinese Language and Cultural Studies at Wittenberg University. Her presentation will be on Friday March 7 at 5:00 p.m. See below for details.
  2. Carl Djerassi on “The Rise and Demise of the Pill.” Carl Djerassi is a world-renowned chemist, one of the “fathers of the Pill,” and author of “science in fiction.” His presentation will be on Saturday March 8 at 5:00 p.m. See below for details. Click here for the notes on the presentaiton by Carl Djerassi.

  • All presentations and lectures are free and open to students and the public. 
  • Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the event contact person listed below.

Friday March 7

12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. - Coffee and Tea

  • Location: 2390 University Capitol Center Board Room (2nd Floor, North End)
  • Welcome: Waltraud Maierhofer, Walter Gruenzweig, and  Steve Choe
  • Opening Remarks: Downing Thomas (Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs, U Iowa)

1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. - Contraception and Politics in Television

  • Location: 2390 University Capitol Center Board Room (2nd Floor, North End)
  • Moderator: Meenakshi Gigi Durham (Journalism & Mass Communication / Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies, University of Iowa)
  • Jessica Borge (Film, Media, and Cultural Studies; University of London, UK). “Where was ‘The Pill’ on the 1960s British Screen?  A Survey of the Evidence.”
  • Markus Schleich and Jonas Nesselhauf (Comparative Literatures, U Saarbrücken, Germany). "’I Will Take You Off This Medicine If You Abuse it’ - Politics of Contraception in Contemporary US Quality Television”

3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Abortion in Film and Non-Fiction

  • Location: 2390 University Capitol Center Board Room (2nd Floor, North End)
  • Moderator: Steve Choe (Cinema Arts, U Iowa)
  • Kirsten Kumpf Baele (German, U Iowa) and Sofie Decock (German, Ghent U, Belgium). “Pregnant Girls in the Attic: A Cinematographic and Spatial Analysis of Patrice Toye’s Little Black Spiders”
  • Cynthia Laborde (French, U Iowa). “He Has a Voice too: Abortion through the Eye of a Man”

5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. - Keynote 1: Shelley W. Chan speaking on “The Forbidden Pregnancy and the Abandoned Children: On Mo Yan’s Fiction about the One-Child Policy and Abortion in China”

  • Location: 100 Philips Hall (16 North Clinton Street)
  • Welcome: Morten Schlütter (Chinese Religion; Director, Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, U Iowa)
  • Introduction: Jennifer Feeley (Chinese Literature, U Iowa)
  • Shelley W. Chan (Chinese Language and Cultural Studies, Wittenberg University) speaking on “The Forbidden Pregnancy and the Abandoned Children: On Mo Yan’s Fiction about the One-Child Policy and Abortion in China” - Naming himself “Mo Yan,” literally meaning “do not speak,” the Chinese Nobel Prize laureate speaks abundantly with his pen. Prof. Chan will examine how Mo Yan’s fiction discloses his solicitude for the lives of his fellow Chinese citizens and his eagerness to explore controversial and sensitive topics, such as the one-child policy and abortion in China. Besides Frog, will discuss a couple of stories by Mo Yan.

8:00 p.m. - Film viewing: "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days" - written and directed by Cristian Mungiu, Romania, 2007

  • Location: 140 Schaeffer Hall
  • Followed by Question and Answers.

Saturday, March 8

8:30 a.m – 10:00 a.m. - Politics and Activism

  • Location: 302 Schaeffer Hall
  • Moderator: Ellen Lewin (Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies / Anthropology, U Iowa)
  • Ciara Meehan (History, U of Hertfordshire, UK). “Negotiating Social Change: The Riordans and the Contraception Debate in Ireland, 1965-1978”
  • Isabella De Soriano (U Iowa). “Institutional Use of Long-Term and Permanent Contraception.”
  • Donna J. Drucker (History, TU Darmstadt, Germany). “Sexual Behavior and the Science of Contraceptive Testing in the mid-Twentieth Century United States“

10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. - Responses to Planned and Unplanned Pregnancies

  • Location: 302 Schaeffer Hall
  • Moderator: Ed Folsom (English, University of Iowa)
  • Regina Range  (German, Concordia U, Montreal, CA). “The Theme of Unwanted Pregnancy in Gina Kaus’ Literary and Filmic Work.”
  • Karissa Haugeberg (History, Tulane U). “Contraception and Unwanted Pregnancy in American Teen Television Series, 1990-2013.”
  • Walter Gruenzweig (U Dortmund, Germany). “From the Pill to the Pen to the Pill, Again: Carl Djerassi’s Discursive Constructions of Birth Control.”

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Family Planning and Abortion in Fiction and Film. Presentations by University of Iowa Undergraduate Students

  • Location: 302 Schaeffer Hall
  • Moderator: Waltraud Maierhofer
  • Lisa Sullivan. “Family Planning and Contraception in 20th-century Dystopian Fiction.”
  • Alexandra Cordes. “The film 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days and Abortion in Communist Romania.”
  • Maritza Pineda. “Abortion in Recent Mexican Cinema.”
  • Coffee reception, sponsored by the University of Iowa Honors Program

5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. - Keynote 2: Carl Djerassi speaking on “The Rise and Demise of the Pill.”

  • Location: Old Capitol Senate Chamber
  • Welcome: Russell Ganim (Director Division of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, University of Iowa)
  • Introduction: Walter Gruenzweig (University of Dortmund)
  • Presenter Bio: Djerassi (born 1923, Vienna), is a world-renown American chemist, novelist, and playwright. As a scientist, he is best known for his contribution to the development of the oral contraceptive pill. In the past twenty years, he has produced a large number of novels, plays and also poetry which he subsumes under the genre of “science-in-fiction” and “science-in-literature” and which are translated, published and presented all over the world.
  • Click here for the notes on the presentaiton by Carl Djerassi.

Dinner for all symposium speakers and moderators. TBA.

Sunday, March 9

9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. - Television and Popular Culture

  • Coffee
  • Location: 302 Schaeffer Hall
  • Moderator: Miriam Thaggert (English and African-American Studies, University of Iowa)
  • Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz (Communication Studies, U Iowa). “Telling Cautionary ‘Whales’: Disciplining Teen Pregnancy in U.S. Popular Culture.”
  • Beth Capo (American Literature, Illinois College). "Woman Rebel: Margaret Sanger and Contemporary Popular Culture."
  • Jamie Wagman (History / Gender & Women’s Studies, St. Mary’s College). “The Pill and Great Performances (Cycle After Cycle)”

Concluding Remarks

This conference is sponsored by the Division of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; the departments of English, German, Chemistry, Cinematic Arts, Pharmacology as well as Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies; Global Health Studies Programs, the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, the Center for Human Rights, the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Honors Program, and International Programs.

Waltraud Maierhofer
waltraud-maierhofer@uiowa.edu
866-465-1607

Steve Choe
steve-choe@uiowa.edu
319-335-0639

Symposium organizers: Waltraud Maierhofer (German; U Iowa), Walter Gruenzweig (American Studies & Comparative Literature; U Dortmund, Germany), Elizabeth Heineman (History / Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, U Iowa), Steve Choe (Cinema Arts, U Iowa).

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the event contact person listed above.

Header graphic design by Makur Jain.