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Rereading Sex: Battles Over Sexual Knowledge and Suppression in Nineteenth-Century America / Edition 1
     

Rereading Sex: Battles Over Sexual Knowledge and Suppression in Nineteenth-Century America / Edition 1

by Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz
 

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ISBN-10: 0375701869

ISBN-13: 2900375701862

Pub. Date: 10/14/2003

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

A lively, scholarly, and often startling exploration of nineteenth-century American attitudes toward sexuality--what we felt, thought, wrote, and said about the human body; about love, lust, intercourse, masturbation, contraception, and abortion; about the power of sexual words and images.

Horowitz shows us a many-voiced America in which an earthy acceptance of

Overview

A lively, scholarly, and often startling exploration of nineteenth-century American attitudes toward sexuality--what we felt, thought, wrote, and said about the human body; about love, lust, intercourse, masturbation, contraception, and abortion; about the power of sexual words and images.

Horowitz shows us a many-voiced America in which an earthy acceptance of desire and sexual expression collided with the prohibitions broadcast from the pulpit and the printed page by evangelical Christian elements. She describes the new sensibility of agitators like Victoria Woodhull placing sex at the center of life, visionaries like Robert Owen and Frances Wright espousing free love, faddists like Sylvester Graham obsessing about the dangers of masturbation, a country physician writing the first scientifically grounded book on contraception, the lively new commerce in erotica--including newspapers such as the Sunday Flash and, most famous, the National Police Gazette (which featured a legal way to write explicitly about sex). We see a rising opposition instigated by conservative New Yorkers who feared the corruption of young male clerks living in boardinghouses, deprived of parental influence. And we see how this movement led into an era of suppression--pitting Anthony Comstock, who succeeded in banning sexual subject matter from the mails, against the new dissenters committed to free speech--an early battle of the national cultural war that continues to this day.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2900375701862
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/14/2003
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
528

Table of Contents

1Introduction3
Part IThe Sexual Conversation17
2Vernacular Sexual Culture, Commercial Erotica, and Obscene Libel19
3Free Thought, Sexual Knowledge, and Evangelical Christianity45
4Blasphemy, Birth Control, and Obscenity70
5The Masturbation Scare and the Rise of Reform Physiology86
Part IIThe New York Scene123
6New York and the Emergence of Sporting Culture125
7Moral Reformers144
8The Sporting Weeklies and Obscene Libel159
9Abortion194
10Obscenity in the City210
Part IIIAdditions and Complications249
11Placing Sex at the Core of Being251
12Blurring the Boundaries272
Part IVSexual Knowledge and Obscenity in New York and the Nation297
13The Y.M.C.A. of New York, the Civil War, and Anthony Comstock299
14Sex Talk in the Open319
15Victoria Woodhull342
16The Comstock Law358
17Comstock's Crusade386
18Convictions404
19Constitutionality and Resistance: Bennett, Benedict, and Blatchford419
20Conclusion439
Notes445
Acknowledgments493
Index495

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