The University of Wisconsin Press
Science Education / Theater & Drama / Health & Medicine
Sex in an Age of Technological Reproduction
ICSI and Taboos
“As these two plays demonstrate, [Carl Djerassi] has developed a form of drama on scientific themes that is as entertaining as it is instructive.”—David Lodge, author of The Year of Henry James and Author, Author
Carl Djerassi is one of the “the fathers of the Pill”—he was awarded the National Medal of Science for the first synthesis of a steroid oral contraceptive—and has had a prolific additional career as a writer of fiction, plays, and dialogues about science. In these two plays, ICSI and Taboos, he dramatizes the social transformations and contested viewpoints created by advances in reproductive science and technology.
Two of the most startling developments in contemporary science have radically disrupted the historical connection between sex and reproduction: in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)—an assisted reproductive technique that directly injects a single sperm into an egg. The word play ICSI—designed for classroom readings—presents, in the format of a contentious talk-show dialogue, the science of direct-injection fertilization and the ethical issues connected with it. A DVD included in the book provides video of the ICSI injection process as viewed through a microscope, to be used in performances of the ICSI one-act dialogue. Taboos, a full-length play, turns the screws on characters that reflect a polarized America. Two couples— lesbian partners and a conservative husband and wife struggling with infertility—must make choices in a drama that examines the disjunction of sexual reproduction and the physical act of sex.
“Carl Djerassi is in a unique position to dramatize . . . the ethical dimensions of the new technologies of reproduction. In addition, his clarity as a writer, and his sense of serious mischief as an agent provocateur, make these plays as compelling on the page as they are challenging on the stage.”—Elaine Showalter, Princeton University, author of Sexual Anarchy
Carl Djerassi is emeritus professor of chemistry at Stanford University and the recipient of many scientific honors, including the American Chemical Society’s Priestley Medal, the first Wolf Prize in Chemistry, the U.S. National Medal of Science, and the U.S. National Medal of Technology. His literary works, including poems, novels, plays, and memoirs, have been translated into many languages. Among the most widely known of these are Cantor’s Dilemma, The Bourbaki Gambit, This Man’s Pill, Calculus, Phallacy and Oxygen, (co-authored with Roald Hoffman).
• The North American premiere of Taboos opened at New York’s Soho Playhouse on September 19, 2008.
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LC: 2008010993 PS
136 pp., 6 x 9
8 b/w illus., includes DVD
Paper $24.95 t
Cloth $50.00 s
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• For more information about Carl Djerassi, visit his webpage at www.djerassi.com
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