Mediating reproduction: Medicine, pregnancy and fetuses in Swedish film and television, 1960s–1980s

Project leader: Elisabet Björklund

This subproject examines representations of reproduction in Swedish film and television during the time period from the 1960s to the 1980s. In the 1960s, major changes in the attitudes towards sexuality and reproduction took place in Sweden, which eventually lead to political reform in many areas. For example, abortion on demand was introduced in 1975 after big debates on the issue during the 1960s. At the same time, the media landscape changed significantly, not least with the expansion of the new medium of television. The aim of the project is to explore the intersection of these two developments by analyzing how ideas about medicine, pregnancy and fetuses have been constructed and communicated in audiovisual media and what role these representations have played in public debates and discussions. Through a number of case studies of theatrically distributed films, television programs of various formats, and educational films from the period, the project investigates questions related to the relationship between medicine and different media forms, the uses of images of fetuses in audiovisual media, women in film and television production, abortion narratives, and representations of disability.

Publications and presentations:

Swedish sex education films and their audiences : Representations, address and assumptions about influence“, in Solveig Jülich & Sven Widmalm (eds), Communicating the history of medicine : Perspectives on audiences and impact, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2020.

Freedom to choose: Reproduction and women’s agency in three Swedish films of the 1980s“, in Ingrid Stigsdotter (ed.), Making the invisible visible: Reclaiming women's agency in Swedish film history and beyond, Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2019. Full text.

Omstridd information: Maj Wechselmanns Omställningen och kritik mot kommersiellt material om att få barn på 1970-talet“, in Fredrik Norén & Emil Stjernholm (eds), Efterkrigstidens samhällskontakter, Lund: Mediehistoria, Lunds universitet, 2019. Full text

• “Realism or 'grotesque clichés'? Jan Halldoff's The Corridor and the Swedish debate on abortion in the 1960s“, Journal of Scandinavian Cinema, vol. 9 no. 1, 2019, 117–130. Abstract

• "Medical programs on reproductive health in Swedish television of the late 1960s and early 1970s", paper presentation, Tele(visualising) Health: Television, Public Health, Its Enthusiasts and Its Publics, London, Great Britain, February 27-March 1, 2019.

• "Att stå emot informationen: Maj Wechselmanns tv-dokumentär Omställningen och information om graviditet, förlossning och föräldraskap i 1970-talets Sverige", paper presentation, Svenska historikermötet, Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden, May 8-10, 2019 (Title in transl.: "Resisting the information: Maj Wechselmann's TV documentary 'The Change' and information about pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood in Sweden of the 1970s").

• "Feminist representations of pregnancy in Swedish television of the 1970s", paper presentation, The Coming of Age of the Public Fetus: Exploring Pregnant and Fetal Bodies in Visual Culture, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, May 15-17, 2019.

• “The abortion debate in Swedish television of the 1960s and 1970s”, paper presentation, European Network for Cinema and Media Studies, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3, Paris, June 29-July 1, 2017.