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Writing American sexual histories

The archive has assumed a new significance in the history of sex, and this book visits a series of such archives, including the Kinsey Institute’s erotic art; gay masturbatory journals in the New York Public Library; the private archive of an amateur pornographer; and one man’s lifetime photographic dossier on Baltimore hustlers. The subject topics covered are wide-ranging: the art history of homoeroticism; casual sex before hooking-up; transgender; New York queer sex; masturbation; pornography; sex in the city. The duality indicated by the book’s title reflects its themes. It is an experiment in writing an American sexual history that refuses the confines of identity sexuality studies, spanning the spectrum of queer, trans, and the allegedly ‘normal’. What unites this project is a fascination with sex at the margins, refusing the classificatory frameworks of heterosexuality and homosexuality, and demonstrating gender and sexual indecision and flexibility. And the book is also an exploration of the role of the archive in such histories. The sex discussed is located both in the margins of the archives, what has been termed the counterarchive, but also, importantly, in the pockets of recorded desire located in the most traditional and respectable repositories. The sexual histories in this book are those where pornography and sexual research are indistinguishable; where personal obsession becomes tomorrow’s archive. The market is potentially extensive: those interested in American studies, sexuality studies, contemporary history, the history of sex, psychology, anthropology, sociology, gender studies, queer studies, trans studies, pornography studies, visual studies, museum studies, and media studies.

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Inscriptions, bodies and selves in nineteenth-century hermaphrodite case histories

An adolescent girl is mocked when she takes a bath with her peers, because her genitals look like those of a boy. A couple visits a doctor asking to ‘create more space’ in the woman for intercourse. A doctor finds testicular tissue in a woman with appendicitis, and decides to keep his findings quiet. These are just a few of the three hundred European case histories of people whose sex was doubted during the long nineteenth century that this book draws upon. The book offers a refreshingly new perspective on the relation between physical sex and identity over the long nineteenth century. Rather than taking sex, sexuality and gender identity as a starting point for discussing their mutual relations, it historicizes these very categories. Based on a wealth of previously unused source material, the book asks how sex was doubted in practice—whether by lay people, by hermaphrodites themselves, or by physicians; how this doubt was dealt with; what tacit logics directed the practices by which a person was assigned a sex, and how these logics changed over time. The book highlights three different rationales behind practices of doubting and (re)assigning sex: inscription, body and self. Sex as inscription refers to a lifelong inscription of a person in the social body as male or female, marked by the person's appearance. This logic made way for logics in which the truth of inner anatomy and inner self were more significant.

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Ciara Meehan

I personally have suffered physically and emotionally in the intimate side of my marriage because my husband and I never had proper sex education. The fact that we have had five children doesn't mean that we are happy and compatible sexually, but we put up a good ‘front’ like so many other married couples. Grateful, Dublin, Woman's Choice , 1 October 1968

in A woman’s place?
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Sexuality and the writing of colonial history
Robert Aldrich

In 1990, among the first dozen volumes of the Studies in Imperialism series, appeared Ronald Hyam’s Empire and Sexuality, a novel and even provocative theme in a field traditionally dominated by theories and practices of colonial governance, the economic balance-sheet of empire and the collaboration and resistance of colonised peoples. 1 Sex had hardly been a topic in

in Writing imperial histories
A Postcolonial Geography

The operation of the British model of imperialism was never consistent, seldom coherent, and far from comprehensive. Purity campaigns, controversies about the age of consent, the regulation of prostitution and passage and repeal of contagious diseases laws, as well as a new legislative awareness of homosexuality, were all part of the sexual currency of the late Victorian age. Colonial governments, institutions and companies recognised that in many ways the effective operation of the Empire depended upon sexual arrangements. They devised elaborate systems of sexual governance, but also devoted disproportionate energy to marking and policing the sexual margins. This book not only investigates controversies surrounding prostitution, homosexuality and the age of consent in the British Empire, but also revolutionises people's notions about the importance of sex as a nexus of imperial power relations. The derivative hypothesis, which reads colonial sexuality politics as something England did or gave to its colonies, is illustrated and made explicit by the Indian Spectator, which seemed simply to accept that India should follow English precedent. In 1885, the South Australian parliament passed legislation, similar to England's Criminal Law Amendment Act, which raised the age of consent from 13 to 16 and introduced a series of restrictions and regulations on sexual conduct. Richard Francis Burton's case against the moral universalism and sex between men are discussed. 'Cognitively mapping' sexuality politics, the book has traced connections between people, places and politics, exploring both their dangers and opportunities, which revolve in each case around embroilments in global power.

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David Louis Bowie’s New York diaries, 1978–93
Barry Reay

6 Sex in the archives: David Louis Bowie’s New York diaries, 1978–93 There are some very queer diaries in the not always queer archives of the Manuscripts and Archives Division in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library of the New York Public Library. They are embargoed until 2068, but I was granted special permission to consult them. I have trouble recalling what initially piqued my interest but it must have been the catalogue entry: ‘David Louis Bowie Diaries 1978–1993 .  .  . Illustrated diaries of the daily activities and sexual encounters of a Queens

in Sex in the archives
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The globalisation of an idea
Kelly Kollman

Kollman 04_Tonra 01 03/12/2012 12:41 Page 65 4 Same-sex unions: the globalisation of an idea 1 This chapter examines same-sex unions policy developments in eighteen western democracies and utilises this broad-based analysis to address the study’s three over-arching empirical questions: (1) How can we explain the wave of SSU policy adoption that has occurred across western democracies since 1989? (2) Why have a minority of western democracies failed to adopt such laws or been laggards in doing so? (3) Why have adopter countries implemented different models of

in The same-sex unions revolution in western democracies
Nicole Vitellone

3 Condoms and sex research What are the consequences of getting adolescents to speak about the condom and their sexual experiences in the public arena? What impact has sex research had in producing knowledge of adolescent sexuality? In answering these questions this chapter seeks to provide a history of sex research on the condom. The object of my analysis is government-funded sex research on adolescence. Focusing on HIV/AIDS research conducted within university departments throughout the 1990s, I address the role social scientists have played in constructing

in Object matters
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McGahern’s personal and detached reflections
Tom Inglis

9 Love and sex: McGahern’s personal and detached reflections Tom Inglis Writers provide rich, thick descriptions of the cultures in which people live. They shine a light on the taken-for-granted ways of being, seeing and doing that cultural actors have developed over generations. Through fiction, novelists reveal the interests, feelings, moods and motivations of social actors. While social scientists have made it their business to try to understand how we interact, and while they often provide a description and explanation of the institutions, discourses and

in John McGahern