An American Obsession: Science, Medicine, and Homosexuality in Modern Society

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University of Chicago Press, Dec 15, 1999 - Social Science - 537 pages
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Drawing on original research from medical texts, psychiatric case histories, pioneering statistical surveys, first-person accounts, legal cases, sensationalist journalism, and legislative debates, Jennifer Terry has written a nuanced and textured history of how the century-old obsession with homosexuality is deeply tied to changing American anxieties about social and sexual order in the modern age.

Terry's overarching argument is compelling: that homosexuality served as a marker of the "abnormal" against which malleable, tenuous, and often contradictory concepts of the "normal" were defined. One of the few histories to take into consideration homosexuality in both women and men, Terry's work also stands out in its refusal to erase the agency of people classified as abnormal. She documents the myriad ways that gays, lesbians, and other sexual minorities have coauthored, resisted, and transformed the most powerful and authoritative modern truths about sex. Proposing this history as a "useable past," An American Obsession is an indispensable contribution to the study of American cultural history.
 

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AN AMERICAN OBSESSION: Science, Medicine and the Place of Homosexuality in Modern Society

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paper 0-226-79367-2 An encyclopedic history of how the American medical and scientific communities' perceptions of homosexuality constructed it as "abnormal" rather than as part and parcel of "the ... Read full review

An American obsession: science, medicine, and homosexuality in modern society

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By examining an array of medical and scientific texts published over the last two centuries, Terry (comparative studies, Ohio State Univ.) offers a detailed history of how it came to be that ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
2
Modernity and the Vexing Presence of Homosexuals
28
Medicalizing Homosexuality
41
The United States of Perversion
75
Progressive Science in Search of Sexual Normality
121
Fluid Sexes
160
The Committee for the Study of Sex Variants
179
Sex Variant Subjects
221
Disease or Way of Life?
298
Parents Strangers and Other Dangers
316
Fear of a World Conspiracy
330
Discerning Allies and Enemies
354
Epilogue
379
Notes
402
Bibliography
482
Index
524

Policing Homosexuality
269

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