Rereading Sex: Battles Over Sexual Knowledge and Suppression in Nineteenth-Century America

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9780375701863: Rereading Sex: Battles Over Sexual Knowledge and Suppression in Nineteenth-Century America
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From bawdy talk to evangelical sermons, and from celebrations of free love to prosecutions for obscenity, nineteenth-century America encompassed a far broader range of sexual attitudes and ideas than the Victorian stereotype would have us believe. In Rereading Sex, Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz lets us listen to the national conversation about sex in the nineteenth century and hear voices that resonate in our own time.

Probing court records, pamphlets, and “sporting men’s” magazines, Horowitz shows us a many-voiced America in which an earthy acceptance of desire and sexual expression collided with prohibitions broadcast from the pulpit. We encounter fascinating reformers like Victoria Woodhull, who advocated free love and became the first woman to run for president; faddists like Sylvester Graham, who obsessed about the dangers of masturbation; and moral crusaders like Anthony Comstock, who succeeded in banning sexual subject matter from the mails. We also see how newspapers like the Sunday Flash treated prostitutes like celebrities and how the National Police Gazette found a legal way to write about explicity about sex through crime reports that read like gossip columns. Employing an encyclopedic knowledge artfully rendered, Horowitz brings to the fore a wide spectrum of attitudes and a debate echoed in the culture wars of today.

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From the Back Cover:

“Superb. . . . Full of fresh material, shrewd analysis and sound judgment... Horowitz’s enthusiasm and sense of fun are infectious.” —Los Angeles Times

“A fine new study of the debates over sexual knowledge in 19th century America. . . . Horowitz is a rigorous and supple thinker on inflammatory issues.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Completely fascinating. . . . Highly entertaining and accessible.” —The Women’s Review of Books

“A highly readable book that maintains high standards of scholarship and integrity.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Impressive and compelling . . . an intricate tapestry of nineteenth-century American sexual culture that fully reveals the power and complexity of sexuality and its profound impact on every facet of life.”—Booklist (starred review)

“In letting us eavesdrop on 19th-century discussions of sex, Horowitz demonstrates that while the language has certainly changed, many of the arguments have not.” —Providence Journal

“In Helen Horowitz’s wide-ranging account of the culture wars of the nineteenth century, anxieties that we live with today—about pornography, contraception, abortion, and free expression—turn out to have surprising histories.” —Linda K. Kerber, author of No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies

“Entertaining. . . . The huge number of philosophies and personalities that played a role in the debate, and made a foundation for our current sexual ideas, are brilliant distilled.” —The Lafayette Times

“Moves us beyond the old binary of Victorian lights and shadows, of prudery versus passion, to show the interwoven complexity of our first national conversation about sex.” —Patricia Cline Cohen, author of The Murder of Helen Jewett

From the Inside Flap:

A lively, scholarly, and often startling exploration of nineteenth-century American attitudes toward sexuality--what we felt, thought, wrote, and said about the human body; about love, lust, intercourse, masturbation, contraception, and abortion; about the power of sexual words and images.
Horowitz shows us a many-voiced America in which an earthy acceptance of desire and sexual expression collided with the prohibitions broadcast from the pulpit and the printed page by evangelical Christian elements. She describes the new sensibility of agitators like Victoria Woodhull placing sex at the center of life, visionaries like Robert Owen and Frances Wright espousing free love, faddists like Sylvester Graham obsessing about the dangers of masturbation, a country physician writing the first scientifically grounded book on contraception, the lively new commerce in erotica--including newspapers such as the Sunday Flash and, most famous, the National Police Gazette (which featured a legal way to write explicitly about sex). We see a rising opposition instigated by conservative New Yorkers who feared the corruption of young male clerks living in boardinghouses, deprived of parental influence. And we see how this movement led into an era of suppression--pitting Anthony Comstock, who succeeded in banning sexual subject matter from the mails, against the new dissenters committed to free speech--an early battle of the national cultural war that continues to this day.

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9780375401923: Rereading Sex: Battles over Sexual Knowledge and Suppression in Nineteenth-Century America

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Book Description VINTAGE, United States, 2003. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. From bawdy talk to evangelical sermons, and from celebrations of free love to prosecutions for obscenity, nineteenth-century America encompassed a far broader range of sexual attitudes and ideas than the Victorian stereotype would have us believe. In Rereading Sex, Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz lets us listen to the national conversation about sex in the nineteenth century and hear voices that resonate in our own time. Probing court records, pamphlets, and "sporting men's" magazines, Horowitz shows us a many-voiced America in which an earthy acceptance of desire and sexual expression collided with prohibitions broadcast from the pulpit. We encounter fascinating reformers like Victoria Woodhull, who advocated free love and became the first woman to run for president; faddists like Sylvester Graham, who obsessed about the dangers of masturbation; and moral crusaders like Anthony Comstock, who succeeded in banning sexual subject matter from the mails. We also see how newspapers like the Sunday Flash treated prostitutes like celebrities and how the National Police Gazette found a legal way to write about explicity about sex through crime reports that read like gossip columns. Employing an encyclopedic knowledge artfully rendered, Horowitz brings to the fore a wide spectrum of attitudes and a debate echoed in the culture wars of today. Seller Inventory # AAS9780375701863

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Book Description VINTAGE, United States, 2003. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. From bawdy talk to evangelical sermons, and from celebrations of free love to prosecutions for obscenity, nineteenth-century America encompassed a far broader range of sexual attitudes and ideas than the Victorian stereotype would have us believe. In Rereading Sex, Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz lets us listen to the national conversation about sex in the nineteenth century and hear voices that resonate in our own time. Probing court records, pamphlets, and "sporting men's" magazines, Horowitz shows us a many-voiced America in which an earthy acceptance of desire and sexual expression collided with prohibitions broadcast from the pulpit. We encounter fascinating reformers like Victoria Woodhull, who advocated free love and became the first woman to run for president; faddists like Sylvester Graham, who obsessed about the dangers of masturbation; and moral crusaders like Anthony Comstock, who succeeded in banning sexual subject matter from the mails. We also see how newspapers like the Sunday Flash treated prostitutes like celebrities and how the National Police Gazette found a legal way to write about explicity about sex through crime reports that read like gossip columns. Employing an encyclopedic knowledge artfully rendered, Horowitz brings to the fore a wide spectrum of attitudes and a debate echoed in the culture wars of today. Seller Inventory # BTE9780375701863

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Book Description VINTAGE, United States, 2003. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. From bawdy talk to evangelical sermons, and from celebrations of free love to prosecutions for obscenity, nineteenth-century America encompassed a far broader range of sexual attitudes and ideas than the Victorian stereotype would have us believe. In Rereading Sex, Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz lets us listen to the national conversation about sex in the nineteenth century and hear voices that resonate in our own time. Probing court records, pamphlets, and "sporting men's" magazines, Horowitz shows us a many-voiced America in which an earthy acceptance of desire and sexual expression collided with prohibitions broadcast from the pulpit. We encounter fascinating reformers like Victoria Woodhull, who advocated free love and became the first woman to run for president; faddists like Sylvester Graham, who obsessed about the dangers of masturbation; and moral crusaders like Anthony Comstock, who succeeded in banning sexual subject matter from the mails. We also see how newspapers like the Sunday Flash treated prostitutes like celebrities and how the National Police Gazette found a legal way to write about explicity about sex through crime reports that read like gossip columns. Employing an encyclopedic knowledge artfully rendered, Horowitz brings to the fore a wide spectrum of attitudes and a debate echoed in the culture wars of today. Seller Inventory # AAS9780375701863

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