Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America

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University of Chicago Press, 1988 - History - 446 pages
2 Reviews
The first full length study of the history of sexuality in America, Intimate Matters offers trenchant insights into the sexual behavior of Americans, from colonial times to today. D'Emilio and Freedman give us a deeper understanding of how sexuality has dramatically influenced politics and culture throughout our history.

"The book John D'Emilio co-wrote with Estelle B. Freedman, Intimate Matters, was cited by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy when, writing for a majority of court on July 26, he and his colleagues struck down a Texas law criminalizing sodomy. The decision was widely hailed as a victory for gay rights—and it derived in part, according to Kennedy's written comments, from the information he gleaned from D'Emilio's book, which traces the history of American perspectives on sexual relationships from the nation's founding through the present day. The justice mentioned Intimate Matters specifically in the court's decision."—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune

"Fascinating. . . . [D'Emilio and Freedman] marshall their material to chart a gradual but decisive shift in the way Americans have understood sex and its meaning in their lives." —Barbara Ehrenreich, New York Times Book Review

"With comprehensiveness and care . . . D'Emilio and Freedman have surveyed the sexual patterns for an entire nation across four centuries." —Martin Bauml Duberman, Nation

"Intimate Matters is comprehensive, meticulous and intelligent." —Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World

"This book is remarkable. . . . [Intimate Matters] is bound to become the definitive survey of American sexual history for years to come." —Roy Porter, Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - deusvitae - LibraryThing

A very thorough historical assessment of sexuality in what can be known about practice and the view of sexuality in American culture from the beginnings of colonization to the present day. The author ... Read full review

Intimate matters: a history of sexuality in America

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

An irony of historical writing is that sexualityone of the most important factors in everyone's livesis perhaps the least discussed. Gender relations, the purpose of sexual intercourse, and the ... Read full review


Family Life and the Regulation of Deviance
Seeds of Change
Within the Family
Race and Sexuality
Outside the Family
Sexual Politics
Civilized Morality Under Stress
Crusades for Sexual Order
Breaking with the Past
Redrawing the Boundaries
Sexual Revolutions
The Sexualized Society
The Contemporary Political Crisis

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Page 401 - Mary P. Ryan, Cradle of the Middle Class: The Family in Oneida County, New York, 1790-1865 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981); Nancy A.
Page 405 - Lillian Faderman, Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love between Women from the Renaissance to the Present (New York: William Morrow, 1981).

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About the author (1988)

Estelle B. Freedman is the Edgar E. Robinson Professor in US History at Stanford University and the author of No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women.

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