Primers for Prudery: Sexual Advice to Victorian America

Overview

In Primers for Prudery Ronald G. Walters examines the historical and social context as well as the substance of sexual advice manuals in nineteenth-century America. Allowing the authors of these manuals to speak for themselves—with generous excerpts by contemporary authorities on subjects ranging from the virtues of celibacy to the vices of masturbation—Walters offers his readers a complex reading of the Victorian "prudery" referred to in the book's title. Supplementing each of the excerpts with extensive ...

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Overview

In Primers for Prudery Ronald G. Walters examines the historical and social context as well as the substance of sexual advice manuals in nineteenth-century America. Allowing the authors of these manuals to speak for themselves—with generous excerpts by contemporary authorities on subjects ranging from the virtues of celibacy to the vices of masturbation—Walters offers his readers a complex reading of the Victorian "prudery" referred to in the book's title. Supplementing each of the excerpts with extensive commentary, he places the advice manuals in the larger setting of gender and class issues.

First published in 1974, Primers for Prudery now returns to print in a paperback edition with new selections from women's advice to women and a new preface in which Walters discusses changes that have occurred in the scholarship on sexuality since the book's first publication. He also provides an updated bibliographical note.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

American Quarterly

Walters warns that by today's standards, the advice may appear naive, even ludicrous. Nevertheless, he urges us to put aside our smug presentism. The Victorians were not the wretched victims of sexual repression we may imagine. Rather they were women and men who found in restrictive sexual codes something of value appropriate to their lives. Why else would the repressive codes have endured so long?

Booknews
Walters (history, Johns Hopkins University) considers the gender and class politics of 19th-century sexual advice manuals. Quoting extensively from the manuals themselves, he offers readers a taste of old-fashioned prudery, supplemented by his own commentary and critical analysis. A new preface discusses the changes in scholarship on sexuality since the book was first published by Johns Hopkins U. Press in 1974. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801863486
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Edition description: updated edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Ronald G. Walters is a professor of history at the Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of American Reformers: 1815-1860 and The Antislavery Appeal: American Abolitionism after 1830 and editor of Scientific Authority in Twentieth-Century America (available from Johns Hopkins).

Johns Hopkins University Press

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