The Facts of Life: The Creation of Sexual Knowledge in Britain, 1650-1950

Overview

This remarkable study presents the first detailed and scholarly analysis of the creation of sexual knowledge in Britain. Surveying the period between the mid-seventeenth and the mid-twentieth centuries, it examines the major texts which established and authorised sexual knowledge and sexual practices. Porter and Hall then explore the various kinds of backgroundssexual, moral, religious, scientific, medical, domestic, social and cultural - without which these texts are unintelligible. And they examine their ...
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Overview

This remarkable study presents the first detailed and scholarly analysis of the creation of sexual knowledge in Britain. Surveying the period between the mid-seventeenth and the mid-twentieth centuries, it examines the major texts which established and authorised sexual knowledge and sexual practices. Porter and Hall then explore the various kinds of backgroundssexual, moral, religious, scientific, medical, domestic, social and cultural - without which these texts are unintelligible. And they examine their authors (some famous, some obscure, some anonymous), their careers, and the motives for involvement in medico-moral campaigns that were often thought unsavoury and commonly led to criticism and censure. The Facts of Life also assesses the wider impact of the publication of sexual knowledge and especially of sex advice literature, and explores the interplay between expertise, therapy, social mores and behaviour. Chapters on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries discuss prostitution, contagious diseases and gender relations, and consider debates on sexual issues and associated revelations of personal experience.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A lively account of the way the British learned--and did not learn--about sex over the last 300 years. The authors examine the genre of sexual literature, including popular sex manuals, scholarly treatises on the "sexual science," advertisements, government information, and moralistic tracts. Extensive notes and b&w illustrations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300062212
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 428
  • Product dimensions: 6.58 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.52 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgements
Pt. I From the Restoration to Victoria 1
Introduction: Histories of Sex 3
1 Contexts: from the Restoration to the Accession of Queen Victoria 14
2 Medical Folklore in High and Low Culture: Aristotle's Master-Piece 33
Appendices to Chapter Two 54
3 Doctors and the Medicalization of Sex in the Enlightenment 65
4 Masturbation in the Enlightenment: Knowledge and Anxiety 91
5 Quackery and Erotica 106
Pt. II The Victorians and Beyond 123
Introduction: Towards Victoria 125
6 The Victorian Polyphony, 1850-85 132
7 From the Primeval Protozoa to the Laboratory: the Evolution of Sexual Science from 1889 to the 1930s 155
8 The Authority of Individual Experience and the Opinions of Experts: Sex as a Social Science 178
9 'Good Sex': the New Rhetoric of Conjugal Relations 202
10 Public Faces in Private Places: Sex, Law, Politics and Pressure Groups 224
11 Silent Stares, Smut, Censorship and Surgical Stores: the Makings of Popular Sexual Knowledges 247
Conclusion 271
Notes 285
Bibliography 354
Index 398
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