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An American Obsession

Science, Medicine, and Homosexuality in Modern Society

An American Obsession

Science, Medicine, and Homosexuality in Modern Society

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.

551 pages | 13 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 1999

Gender and Sexuality

History: American History

History of Science


Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Chapter 1: Modernity and the Vexing Presence of Homosexuals
Chapter 2: Medicalizing Homosexuality
Chapter 3: The United States of Perversion
Chapter 4: Progressive Science in Search of Sexual Normality
Chapter 5: Fluid Sexes
Chapter 6: The Committee for the Study of Sex Variants
Chapter 7: Sex Variant Subjects
Chapter 8: Policing Homosexuality
Chapter 9: Disease or Way of Life?
Chapter 10: Parents, Strangers, and Other Dangers
Chapter 11: Fear of a World Conspiracy
Chapter 12: Discerning Allies and Enemies

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