Passion and Power

Sexuality in History

Edited by Christina Simmons, and Kathy Peiss
Book Cover

PB: $34.95
EAN: 978-0-87722-637-6
Publication: Mar 89

HC: $39.95
EAN: 978-0-87722-596-6
Publication: Mar 89

328 pages
6 x 9
32 figs.

Innovative writings on the history of sexuality


Passion and Power brings together some of the most recent and innovative writings on the history of sexuality and explores the experiences, ideas, and conflicts that have shaped the emergence of modern sexual identities. Arguing that sexuality is not an unchanging biological reality or a universal natural force, the essays in this volume discuss sexuality as an integral part of the history of human experience. Articles on sexual assault, homosexuality, birth control, venereal disease, sexual repression, pornography, and the AIDS epidemic examine the ways that sexuality has become a core element of modern social identity in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States.

It is only in recent years that historians have begun to examine the social construction of sexuality. This is the first anthology that addresses this issue from a radical historical perspective, examining sexuality as a field of contention in itself and as part of other struggles rooted in divisions of gender, class, and race.


"Brings together some of the most recent and innovative writing on the history of sexuality and explores the experiences, ideas and conflicts that have shaped the emergence of modern sexual identities." —Dare

Table of Contents

Part I: Sexuality and Historical Meaning
1. Passion and Power: An Introdtion – Kathy Peiss and Christina Simmons
2. Sexual Matters: On Conceptualizing Sexuality in History – Robert A. Padgug

Part II: The Emergence of Modern Sexuality, 1790 to 1930
3. "The Life of a Citizen in the Hands of a Woman": Sexual Assault in New York City, 1790 to 1820 – Marybeth Hamilton Arnold
4. "Charity Girls" and City Pleasurer: Historical Notes on Working Class Sexuality, 1880-1920 – Kathy Peiss
5. Movements of Affirmation: Sexual Meanings and Homosexual Identities – Jeffrey Weeks
6. From Sexual Inversion to Homosexuality: The Changing Medical Conceptualization of Female "Deviance" – George Chauncey, Jr.
7. "We Were a Little Band of Willful Women": The Heterodoxy Club of Greenwich Village – Judith Schwartz, Kathy Peiss, and Christina Simmons
8. The Black Community and the Birth Control Movement – Jessie M. Rodrique

Part III: Sexual Conflicts and Cultural Authority, 1920 to 1960
9. Modern Sexuality and the Myrh of Victorian Repression – Christina Simmons
10. Venereal Disease: The Wages of Sin? – Elizabeth Fee
11. "Uncontrolled Desires": The Response to the Sexual Psychopath, 1920-1960 – Estelle B. Freedman
12. The Homosexual Menace: The Politics of Sexuality in Cold War America – John D’Emilio
13. The Reproduction of Butch-Fern Roles: A Social Constructionist Approach – Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy and Madeline Davis

Part IV: Private Passions and Public Debate, 1960 to the Present
14. Mass Market Romance: Pornography for Women Is Different – Ann Barr Snitow
15. (De)Constructing Pornography: Feminisms in Conflict – Duphne Read
16. Gay Villain, Gay Hero: Homosexuality and the Social Construction of AIDS – Robert A. Padgug

About the Author(s)

Kathy Peiss is Associate Professor of History and Women’s Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and author of Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-century New York (Temple).

Christina Simmons is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Cincinnati-Raymond Walters College.

In the Series

  • Critical Perspectives on the Past edited by Susan Porter Benson, Stephen Brier, and Roy Rosenzweig

    Critical Perspectives on the Past, edited by Susan Porter Benson, Stephen Brier, and Roy Rosenzweig, is concerned with the traditional and nontraditional ways in which historical ideas are formed. In its attentiveness to issues of race, class, and gender and to the role of human agency in shaping events, the series is as critical of traditional historical method as content. Emphasizing that history is itself an interpretation of material events, the series demonstrates that the historian's choices of subject, narrative technique, and documentation are politically as well as intellectually constructed.