Histories of ‘Sex’, Histories of ‘Sexuality’

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Abstract

For Dagmar Herzog, writing the history of sexuality is an act of rebalancing. Sexuality becomes neither positive nor negative, but ambivalent. Herzog destabilises a dominant ‘narrative of gradual progress’, which misunderstands ‘how profoundly complicated the sexual politics of the twentieth century in Europe actually were’ (p. 2). Instead of a linear chronology, Herzog reveals a twentieth century of cyclical change – revolutionary liberalisations and conservative backlashes occur in quick succession, or even concomitantly. Repression appears even within developments considered liberalising by contemporaries. The ambivalences within ‘progress’ and ‘change’ shape sexuality and its history. A third ambivalence is no less important – happiness. Despite being an act inextricably connected with pleasure, sex does not consistently give rise to happiness.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-301
Number of pages7
JournalContemporary European History
Volume22
Issue number02
Early online date4 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013