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Drawing on original empirical research, this book provides a critical understanding of current theory in the study of sexuality.
Inter-disciplinary in approach, Jennifer Harding identifies a series of key issues on contemporary discourses: essentialism vs constructionism; gender and sexuality; representation and concepts of identity; Foucalut's notion of 'discourse'; and Butler's theory of gender 'performance'. These topics are explored in the light of contemporary cultural contexts - for instance, the debate on hormone theory and the social construction of sexuality, 'gender bending' and masculinity, the maternal body, queer families, and constructions of motherhood and fatherhood.
Incorporating a comprehensive overview of the literature, the book develops major themes relating to history, power, discourse and performativity. Critical summaries of the main debates in the field are presented in an accessible way, while the text forms an insightful guide to the dilemmas involved in the private//public divide.
Harding condenses an immense amount of information in pursuit of her goal: the clarification of the cultures of sexuality in late modern societies. The result is a book which will be essential reading for researchers and students working in the area of sexualities.
The Power of Sex
Essentialism and Constructionism
Private Sex, Public Danger
Sex/uality and Representation
Chemical Sex and Social Control
'Gender-Bending' and Masculinity
Sex/uality and the Maternal Body
Lesbians in Popular Culture