Laura Doan
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‘A peculiarly obscure subject’
The missing ‘case’ of the heterosexual
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This chapter describes the genealogy of the heterosexual in relation to its counterpart by looking closely at two distinctive but interconnected systems: sexology and marital advice literature. As a great classificatory project, sexology turns an undifferentiated sexual nature into multiple essences we now term sexual identities. Practising the scientific method of 'close and careful observation', Stella Browne believes her cases 'are absolutely distinguishable from affectionate friendship' and 'episodical homosexuality'. In the closing months of the First World War, sex reformers and sex educators actively developed and disseminated a scientific knowledge of sex by drawing on the work of Havelock Ellis and others. Using the sexological framework to impose order and substance on the messiness of human sexuality, Browne uses the case study method to produce a knowable sexual subject against its nameable opposite.

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British queer history

New approaches and perspectives



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