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LHMP #306 Kuefler 2007 The History of Sexuality Sourcebook

Full citation: 

Kuefler, Mathew (ed). 2007. The History of Sexuality Sourcebook. Broadview Press, Ontario. ISBN 978-1-55111-738-6

This book would make a good companion to Crawford’s European Sexualities, 1400-1800, covered a couple weeks ago. While Crawford offered an analytic textbook on sexuality in history, Kuefler provides a collection of readings of historic texts (though covering a larger geographic and chronological scope) that demonstrate how sexuality was described, experienced, and managed. Note that, as with Crawford’s work, this is “sexuality” in the broadest sense, encompassing all types of desire and activity, and not “sexuality” in the narrow sense of sexual orientation.

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This is an encyclopedia-style collection of texts that speak to specific topics in the history of sexuality. It is far from exhaustive, either in intent or execution, but rather picks specific works to use as discussion or thinking points. It was compiled for use as a set of study texts for a college course on the history of sexuality and that purpose can be seen in the inclusion of study questions after each text.

This summary will note the texts that include content relevant to the LHMP, but I won’t discuss those texts in detail. (Most of them have been covered in other entries in a more analytic form.)

#19 - Plato (5th c BCE, Greece): Aristophanes’ speech from the Symposium that includes the “two halves seeking their other part” model of desire that includes same-sex desire.

#30 - Sappho (7th c BCE, Greece): Several fragments of poems, especially those expressing desire for women.

#68 - Penitential manual (7-8th c CE, England): Examples of penances for fornication, including ones from same-sex activity.

#83 - Bieiris de Romans (12-13th c CE, France): Troubadour love song apparently by a woman to a woman.

#115 - Misc. (19th c France): Medical case studies on the theme of masturbation, including same-sex activity classified as masturbation. Medical interventions to prevent masturbation, including genital mutilation and torture.

#116 - Misc. (19th c France): As a counterpoint to the preceding, recommendation of sexual stimulation to orgasm (including use of a vibrating dildo) as a treatment for “hysteria” in women.

#119 - Krafft-Ebbing (19th c Germany): Case studies of psychological issues attributed to sexual history or to family history of “nervous taint.” The examples include references to cross-dressing, female same-sex desire, and transgender feelings.

#160 - Rekhti erotic poetry (17-18th c India): Excerpts from a genre of erotic poetry describing female same-sex love by traditionally written by male poets.

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