Top Ten History of Sex Books (American Version)

These are our Top Ten History of Sex books (American Version).  As per usual, we included some caveats and and explanations for our selections. 

First, this is a history of sex / history of sexuality list. We understand that there is a distinction but, for us, these two things blur together.  Unlike other people, we do not see them as entirely separate areas of inquiry. Whatever. They clearly overlap, and we’re not interested in trying to separate them for the purposes of our booklist (American Version). 

Second, the so-obvious-they-don’t-need-a-place-on-the-list titles: Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality Volume I and John D’Emilio and Estelle B. Freedman’s Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America.  Foucault’s book arguable does not belong on an American history of sex booklist, but his book is still the goliath in the field and we need to acknowledge it.  Basically, when people think  American sexual history they think of Intimate Matters.  Since you are already thinking of them, we are leaving them off. 

Third, as per usual these books are not in any particular order.

Finally, if you do not like our list, please make some suggestions.  If we like your ideas, we will create a version 2.0 History of Sex booklist (American Version). 

Straight State

1.  Margot Canaday, The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America (Princeton University Press, 2011).

Gay New York

2.  George Chauncey, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World (Basic Books, 1995)

3.  Carol Groneman, Nymphomania: A History (W.W. Norton & Company, 2001)

Prescription for Heterosexuality

4.  Carolyn Herbst-Lewis, Prescription for Heterosexuality: Sexual Citizenship in the Cold War Era (UNC Press, 2013)

5.  Martha Hodes, White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South (Yale University Press, 1999)

6.  Janice Irvine, Disorders of Desire: Sex and Gender in Modern American Sexology (Temple University Press, 2005)

Revolutionary conceptions

7.  Susan E. Klepp, Revolutionary Conceptions: Women, Fertility, and Family Limitation in America, 1760-1820 (UNC Press, 2009) 

8.  Mary Odem, Delinquent Daughters: Protecting and Policing Adolescent Female Sexuality in the United States, 1885-1920 (UNC Press, 1995)

Bachelors and Bunnies

9.  Carrie Pitzulo, Bachelors and Bunnies: The Sexual Politics of Playboy (University of Chicago Press, 2011)

10.  Jennifer Terry, An American Obsession: Science, Medicine, and Homosexuality in Modern Society (University of Chicago, 1999)

Check out the DailyHistory.org Bookshelf at Powell’s Books.

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