Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-swr86 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-16T16:43:52.706Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

17 - Sexual Science in History

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 April 2024

Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Mathew Kuefler
Affiliation:
San Diego State University
Get access

Summary

Sexual science constitutes the empirical study of sexual function and behavior in living beings. It originated from natural philosophy and is now characterized by the methods and aims of modern science. This chapter treats the main story of sexual science, starting with conceptual concerns over the body and using examples from Chinese and Islamic medicine. Next, the analysis shifts to the foundations of sexual science in the Western world, examining philosophical and medical traditions that culminated in medieval scholasticism and institutions like universities and hospitals. The chapter then treats the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, in which contemporaries invented the “two-sex” model and pioneered new ideas of “biopolitics.” The analysis turns the nineteenth century’s complex “discovery” of sex and the powerful connections between global imperialism and sexual understanding. The chapter concludes with the dynamics surrounding the body and sexuality in the global twentieth century, as found in evolutionary biology, sexology, and psychoanalysis, and the relation between mass culture and ideals of the sexual revolution. Sexual science appears paradoxical: sometimes, it seemed an agent of discipline and power, supporting entrenched values, or it seemed to help emancipate individuals, debunking prejudices and superstitions and liberating attitudes and behaviors.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Further Reading

Aderinto, Saheed. When Sex Threatened the State: Illicit Sexuality, Nationalism, and Politics in Colonial Nigeria, 1900–1958. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Allyn, David. Make Love, Not War: The Sexual Revolution, an Unfettered History. New York: Routledge, 2001.Google Scholar
Birken, Lawrence. Consuming Desire: Sexual Science and the Emergence of a Culture of Abundance, 1871–1914. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bliss, Katherine. ‘The Science of Redemption: Syphilis, Sexual Promiscuity, and Reformism in Revolutionary Mexico City’. Hispanic American Historical Review 79 (1999): 140.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Burns, Susan. ‘Bodies and Borders: Syphilis, Prostitution, and the Nation in Japan, 1860–1890’. U.S.–Japan Women’s Journal. English Supplement 15 (1998): 330.Google Scholar
Cadden, Joan. The Meanings of Sex Difference in the Middle Ages: Medicine, Science, and Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.Google Scholar
Clark, Hannah-Louise. ‘Civilization and Syphilization: A Doctor and His Disease in Colonial Morocco’. Bulletin of the History of Medicine 87 (2013): 86114.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Demirci, Tuba, and Somel, Selçuk Aksin. ‘Women’s Bodies, Demography, and Public Health: Abortion Policy and Perspectives in the Ottoman Empire of the Nineteenth Century’. Journal of the History of Sexuality 17 (2008): 377420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Drucker, Donna J. The Classification of Sex: Alfred Kinsey and the Organization of Knowledge. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Frühstück, Sabine. Colonizing Sex: Sexology and Social Control in Modern Japan. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2003.Google Scholar
Fuechtner, Veronika, Haynes, Douglas E., and Jones, Ryan M., eds. A Global History of Sexual Science, 1889–1960. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Furth, Charlotte. A Flourishing Yin: Gender in China’s Medical History, 960–1665. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gadelrab, Sherry Sayed. ‘Discourses on Sex Differences in Medieval Scholarly Islamic Thought’. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 66 (2011): 4081.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gulik, R. H. van. Sexual Life in Ancient China: A Preliminary Survey of Chinese Sex and Society from ca. 1500 BC till 1644 AD. Leiden: Brill, 1961.Google Scholar
Harper, Donald. The Sexual Arts of Ancient China as Described in a Manuscript of the Second Century B.C.Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 47 (1987): 539–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
King, Helen. The One-Sex Body on Trial: The Classical and Early Modern Evidence. New York: Routledge, 2016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kozma, Liat. ‘“We, the Sexologists …”: Arabic Medical Writing on Sexuality, 1879–1943’. Journal of the History of Sexuality 22 (2013): 426–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Laqueur, Thomas. Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud, 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.Google Scholar
Otovo, Okezi. ‘Marrying “Well”: Debating Consanguinity, Matrimonial Law, and Brazilian Legal Medicine, 1890–1930’. Law and History Review 33 (2015): 703–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Otsubo, Sumiko. ‘Feminist Maternal Eugenics in Wartime Japan’. U.S.–Japan Women’s Journal. English Supplement 17 (1999): 3976.Google Scholar
Phillips, Richard. ‘Heterogeneous Imperialism and the Regulation of Sexuality in British West Africa’. Journal of the History of Sexuality 14 (2005): 291315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Quinlan, Sean M. The Great Nation in Decline: Sex, Modernity, and Health Crises in Revolutionary France, ca. 1750–1850. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2008.Google Scholar
Ragab, Ahmed. ‘One, Two, or Many Sexes: Sex Differentiation in Medieval Islamicate Medical Thought’. Journal of the History of Sexuality 24 (2015): 428–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Robinson, Paul. The Modernization of Sex: Havelock Ellis, Alfred Kinsey, William Masters and Virginia Johnson. New York: Harper, 1976.Google Scholar
Stoler, Ann Laura. Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995.Google Scholar
Sulloway, Frank. Freud, Biologist of the Mind: Beyond the Psychoanalytic Legend. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.Google Scholar
Sweet, Michael J., and Willing, Leonard. ‘The First Medicalization: The Taxonomy and Etiology of Queerness in Classical Indian Medicine’. Journal of the History of Sexuality 3 (1993): 590607.Google ScholarPubMed
Watkins, Elizabeth Siegel. On the Pill: A Social History of Oral Contraceptives, 1950–1970. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.Google Scholar
Ze’evi, Dror. Producing Desire: Changing Sexual Discourse in the Ottoman Middle East, 1500–1900. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2006.Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×