ovism

ovism

the theory that the female reproductive cell contains the entire organism and that the male cell does not contribute anything, merely initiating the growth of the female cell.
See also: Biology
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Rebecca Wilkin studies treatises on generation for their tropes of author-as-father function, demonstrating how the new theory of ovism undermined the potency of paternity as a metaphor for authorship.
The theories of procreation known as ovism and homunculism gave different spins to this outlook in projecting the idea that tiny humans were somehow wholly present in the female egg or in the male sperm.
Pinto-Correia focuses not on the debate between epigenesis (the ultimately prevalent theory) and preformation (what she calls the "beautiful loser"), but on the battle between the contesting factions within preformation: ovism and spermism.
Pinto-Correia employs her enormous literary and linguistic erudition to illustrate how the general prejudices against the term homunculus associated with spermism ultimately contributed to its dismissal; how ovism was automatically bolstered by the spherical nature of an egg, a universal symbol of generation (like the Earth, the Sun, and the chicken egg); and how ovism was nonetheless prejudiced for ascribing, in a patriarchal society, the chief role in generation to an egg found only in women.