How our notions about sexual behavior and sexuality have been influenced by sexology, from its roots in nineteenth century Europe to Kinsey's research to the current Viagra Revolution
Disorders of Desire
Sexuality and Gender in Modern American Sexology
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Revised and Expanded Edition
Janice M. Irvine
Listen to an interview with Janice M. Irvine from "GenderTalk," 10 September 2005.
Disorders of Desire is the only book to tell the story of the development and impact of sexologythe scientific study of sexin the United States. In this era of sex scandals, culture wars, "Sex in the City," and new sexual enhancement technologies (like erectile dysfunction drugs), its critique of sexology is even more relevant than it was when the book was first published in 1990.
This revised and expanded edition features new chapters addressing:
"Disorders of Desire remains an excellent history of the sexology movement... [Irving] brilliantly illustrates the tension between sexual science and sexual politics... Disorders of Desire warrants our full endorsement for its arresting contributions to an understanding of sexuality and the history of sexology. This book deserves a place on the shelves of anyone who has a love of history, feminism, gay and lesbian liberation, sexology, and sexuality, as well as anyone who enjoys a thoughtful, well-written work of non-fiction."
Praise for the first edition:
"Disorders of Desire...has important lessons for historians generally. In its meticulous documentation of the in-fighting between different schools of thought within the overall (and much beleaguered by external opponents) field of sexology within a fairly narrow time frame, it reminds us that we may similarly be lumping together very diverse interests and agendas under such headings as 'social purity,' 'sex reform,' 'eugenics,'or 'the birth control movement.' ...This is an excellent, readable, thought-provoking study."
"A comprehensive, nuanced investigation... She shares Michel Foucault's interest in tracing the genealogy of our cultural discourses on sex and gender and the assumptions of power hidden within them, but while Foucault paints in broad brush strokes, traversing centuries and cultures, Irvine's study is much more manageable, and, as a result, more convincing."
"This deeply perceptive history and critique of American sexology illustrates graphically social historians' conviction that the subject of sexuality can be an important avenue to decoding culture. Irvine's historical focus on the efforts of sexologists to professionalize in the course of the last century is a treasure trove of information that will inform scholars with a wide range of interests. There are some excellent insights... [Irvine's] contribution is most fresh and significant."
"T]his is a very useful book, one that Irvine rightly describes as a product of a particular intellectual and political moment….Accessibly written, well organized and consistently engaging, this text continues to appeal to a wide audience. It is useful for teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels, it will continue to appeal to general readers looking for an introduction to the field, to students of sexology, and studies of sexuality, and indeed for specialists looking to gain further insight into their own practice."
Preface to the Revised and Expanded Edition
Part I. The Emergence of Scientific Sexology
Part II. Sexology at a Crossroad: Consolidation and Confusion
Part III. The Practice of Scientific Sexology: Sex Therapy and Gender Research
Janice M. Irvine is Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of Talk About Sex: The Battles over Sex Education in the United States and the editor of Sexual Cultures and the Construction of Adolescent Sexualities (Temple). In 2005, she received the Simon and Gagnon Award from the Sexualities Section of the American Sociological Association.