Reproductive Acts

Reproductive Acts: Sexual Politics in North American Fiction and Film

Publisher’s Description

Forty years after Roe v. Wade, it is evident that the ideologies of “choices” and “rights,” which have publicly framed reproductive politics in North America since the landmark legal decision, have been inadequate in making sense of the topic’s complexities. In Reproductive Acts, Heather Latimer investigates what contemporary fiction and film can tell us about the divisive nature of these politics, and demonstrates how fictional representations of reproduction allow for readings of reproductive politics that are critical of the terms of the debate itself. 

In an innovative argument about the power of fiction to engage and shape politics, Latimer analyzes works by authors such as Margaret Atwood, Kathy Acker, Toni Morrison, Larissa Lai, and director Alfonso Cuarón, among others, to claim that the unease surrounding reproduction, particularly the abortion debate, has increased both inside and outside the US over the last forty years. Fictional representation, Latimer argues, reveals reproductive politics to be deeply connected to cultural anxieties about gender, race, citizenship, and sexuality – anxieties that cannot be contained under the rubrics of individual rights or choices.

Striking a balance between fictional, historical, and political analysis, Latimer makes a compelling argument for the vital role narrative plays in how we make sense of reproductive politics.


Berkeley Kaite, Department of English, McGill University: “This is a full and inclusive inquiry into identity, national citizenship, the politics of the body, technology, science, femininity, the mythical future, the unconscious symbolism of reproduction. Latimer situates the works discussed in their historical, cultural, and political contexts with great skill, demonstrating the fluency between the texts and the cultures from which they emerge.”

Jennifer Andrews, Department of English, University of New Brunswick: “Reproductive Acts is an engaging book that deals with important issues in a compelling and provocative manner – there are very few studies that look at reproductive politics in a North American literary context and Latimer’s border-crossing methodology is highly innovative.” 

Canadian Literature: “Latimer’s interdisciplinary study of reproductive politics and of literature’s pivotal role in the cultural imaginary is engaging and timely. It deserves to be read widely.”

Journal of American Studies: “Innovative readings of 1980s novels by Margaret Atwood and Kathy Acker register the polarization of North American abortion politics during this decade. [A] timely and original study.”


Women’s and Gender Studies et Recherches Féministes Outstanding Scholarship Prize (2015)

Where to Find Reproductive Acts

McGill-Queen’s University Press

Amazon (Canadian Site)

Amazon (US site)