Abstract

This essay argues that William Faulkner’s novel As I Lay Dying elucidates the political economies driving the illicit over-the-counter trade in birth control products during the 1910s and 1920s. Drawing on works such as Margaret Jarman Hagood’s ethnographic studies of tenant farm women, advertisements for feminine hygiene products, and Margaret Sanger’s political tracts, I read Faulkner’s novel as staging—through the endeavours of Addie, Cora, and Dewey Dell—a series of failed rebellions against maternity that represent the real historical co-optation, by commercial interests, of women’s radical demands for reproductive rights.

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