History ETDs

Publication Date

9-3-2010

Abstract

I argue in my dissertation, 'Cleaning Up After Sex: An Environmental History of Contraceptives in the United States, 1873—2010,' that through the processes of contraceptive production, consumption, and disposal, over time, the role of contraceptives in human/nature interactions has become more significant and the impact more direct. I examine the production, consumption, and disposal histories of condoms, diaphragms and cervical caps, intrauterine devices, and hormonal birth control. Production, consumption, and disposal of the birth control methods I study have determined physical experiences with both our bodies and with the non-human natural world, but those three processes have also shaped discourse about nature and bodies. Likewise, discourse about nature and bodies helped to determine which contraceptives were made, how they were made, who had access to them, the manners in which they could be used, and what happened to them when humans were done with them. This environmental history of contraceptives in the United States illustrates the interwoven, contingent, and reciprocal relationships among device production, consumption, and disposal; contraceptive discourse; and human bodies.

Level of Degree

Doctoral

Degree Name

History

Department Name

History

First Advisor

Scharff, Virginia Joy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Truett, Samuel

Second Committee Member

Cahill, Cathleen

Third Committee Member

Norwood, Vera

Language

English

Document Type

Dissertation

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