More than a number: Reproductive technologies, cloning and the problematic of fatherhood in Caryl Churchill’s A Number

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The rise of new family formations as lived experience,not least as a function of developments in reproductive technologies, has been accompanied by a range of cultural productions —auto/ biography, poetry, films, plays, novels— centring on the question of the impact of these technologies on the individuals concerned. Focussing on one such production, the hitherto little explored text of the play A Number by one of Britain’s most preeminent feminist playwrights, Caryl Churchill, whose work is also much performed in the US, this article examines how the play intervenes in debates about new reproductive technologies. I draw on theoretical writings on reproductive technologies, as well as first-person accounts of donor insemination, to argue that in her exploration of father-son relationships in an all-male setting, Churchill produces a highly innovative and complex engagement with issues of reproduction and paternity, refusing conventional notions of the heteronormative nuclear family, of the effects of non-normative reproduction, and of the predictability of the effects of divergent (pro)creation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-32
Number of pages21
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • cloning
  • fatherhood
  • Caryl Churchill

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