The Invention of Heterosexuality

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9780452275423: The Invention of Heterosexuality

Exploring the history of heterosexual and homosexual concepts, a study examines the works of such professionals as Freud and the influence of the church while challenging current opinions about sexual identity. Reprint.

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About the Author:

Gore Vidal was born Eugene Luther Vidal in 1925, later adopting the surname of his grandfather, Senator Thomas Gore, as his first name. He is the author of numerous novels—the first, Williwaw, written when he was twenty-one—as well as scripts for film, television and the stage, including the extremely successful The Best Man and Visit to a Small Planet. He is perhaps best known for his historical novels, including Burr (1973), 1876 (1976), and Lincoln (1984). He won the National Book Award in 1993 for his book of essays, United States (1952-1992). 

From Booklist:

Katz's thoughtful, scholarly book examines the words heterosexual and homosexual both of which are scarcely 100 years old--and presents heterosexuality as a historical social convention rather than as a natural, eternal given. In arguing that these categorical terms are historical and thus changeable, Katz reminds us that until very recently, sex was considered mostly functional, urgently needed for procreation in order to populate fledgling American settlements. He then scrutinizes Freud's influence as a sex theorist who changed the image of woman from her nineteenth-century idealization as the "angel in the house" to one in which lack of erotic response constituted mental illness. Moving beyond Freud, he takes us through the twentieth century, stressing the conservatism of the 1940s and 1950s before coming eventually to the churning 1990s, when a theatrical review titled Heterosexuals in Crisis summarizes the "general sense of a different-sex erotic emergency." Along the way, he cites such sex theorists as Kate Millett, Ti-Grace Atkinson, and Michel Foucault, weaving them into his controversial, readable discourse. Whitney Scott

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Jonathan Ned Katz
Published by Plume (1996)
ISBN 10: 0452275423 ISBN 13: 9780452275423
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Jonathan Ned Katz, Lisa Duggan (Afterword), Gore Vidal (Foreword)
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