Sex and Humor: Slections From The Kinsey Institute

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"The relationship of sexuality and humor is a recurrent theme in the collections at The Kinsey Institute.... The holdings contain vast numbers of silly greeting cards, naughty objects, cartoons, jokes, and toys. It is clear that much of the collection is humorous in some way, and that these pieces are likely to be some of the most memorable and engaging." —from the Foreword by Betsy Stirratt

Four important scholarly essays dealing with various aspects of humor and sexuality make up the first part of this book: "Sex and Humor: A Personal View," by John Bancroft; "Humor in the Eight-Pagers," by Frank A. Hoffmann; "The Capacity for Outrage: Feminism, Humor, and Sex," by Leonore Tiefer; and "Gershon Legman, Lord of the Lewd," by Mikita Brottman. As an added attraction, Carol Tavris and Leonore Tiefer have contributed their exclusive "interview" with "Dr. Frieda Tingle, the world’s leading expert on sex."

Then, to accompany the exhibition "Sex and Humor: Selections from The Kinsey Institute," to be presented at the Indiana University School of Fine Arts Gallery from February 8 through March 9, 2002, the book showcases 42 full-page images from the exhibition, accompanied by short descriptive captions describing the origin, history, cultural context, and purpose of the pieces. An overview of the renowned Kinsey collections by curator Catherine Johnson is provided, and there is a checklist of the more than 165 photos, drawings, prints, novelty items, and other objects in the exhibition.

Sex and Humor will serve as a catalyst for further discussion about the nature of humor and its relationship to human sexual behavior and expression.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

New Yorker
In The Erotomaniac (Da Capo), Ian Gibson investigates the life of Henry Spencer Ashbee, a respectable Victorian merchant who collected thousands of volumes of pornography spanning several centuries and languages. Gibson believes that Ashbee was also the author of My Secret Life, a notorious piece of Victorian pornography, reasoning, rather unflatteringly, that "it is a tale by someone who has not found erotic fulfillment, by someone for whom sex exists almost entirely in the head."

Of course, if we're to believe Freud, the impulse to collect is largely sexual anyway. Alfred Kinsey, before he embarked on his sex research, was a zoologist, and he collected millions of gall wasps in an attempt to log every variation in the species. Later, he switched to erotica; the editors of Sex and Humor: Selections from the Kinsey Institute (Indiana) gather some of the more lighthearted items from the collection -- kooky pinups, dirty postcards, and comics -- to illuminate their thesis that social taboos have forced people to "use humor to speak about sex."

There is no shortage of humor in the erotic art of Tomi Ungerer, whose wild imaginings include "Fornicon," a set of contraptions that look like a pornographic remake of "Metropolis." In Erotoscope (Taschen), a selection from four decades of drawings, Ungerer claims that he comes from a repressive Protestant background. This doesn't seem to have limited the amount of lewdness he can pack into a few swooping lines. Curiously, his artistic tastes seem to have dictated his sexual ones, rather than the other way around. His S & M kink reflects his love of shapes: tie a woman up, he explains, and "she becomes more fluid, and the pencil that draws her flows more easily across the paper." (Leo Carey)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253340443
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Catherine Ann Johnson is Curator of Art, Artifacts, and Photography, The Kinsey Institute

Betsy Stirratt is Director ofthe School of Fine Arts Gallery at Indiana University.

John Bancroft, M.D. is Director of The Kinsey Institute.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:

Foreword - Betsy Stirratt
The Kinsey Institute Collections - Catherine Johnson
Sex and Humor: A Personal View - John Bancroft, M.D.
Humor in the Eight-Pagers - Frank A. Hoffman, Ph.D.
The Capacity for Outrage: Feminism, Humor, and Sex - Leonore Tiefer, Ph.D.
Gershon Legman, Lord of the Lewd - Mikita Brottman, Ph.D.
Selections from The Kinsey Institute - Entries by Catherine Johnson
Selected Bibliography

Exhibition Checklist

Indiana University Press

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