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A History of Bisexuality

Why is bisexuality the object of such skepticism? Why do sexologists steer clear of it in their research? Why has bisexuality, in stark contrast to homosexuality, only recently emerged as a nascent political and cultural identity? Bisexuality has been rendered as mostly irrelevant to the history, theory, and politics of sexuality. With A History of Bisexuality, Steven Angelides explores the reasons why, and invites us to rethink our preconceptions about sexual identity. Retracing the evolution of sexology, and revisiting modern epistemological categories of sexuality in psychoanalysis, gay liberation, social constructionism, queer theory, biology, and human genetics, Angelides argues that bisexuality has historically functioned as the structural other to sexual identity itself, undermining assumptions about heterosexuality and homosexuality.

In a book that will become the center of debate about the nature of sexuality for years to come, A History of Bisexuality compels us to rethink contemporary discourses of sexual theory and politics.


“This book is suited to advanced scholars of sexuality, primarily those interested in theory, representation, and ways of knowing. It is a valuable criticism of the historical understandings of sexuality that provides novel re-readings of many of the classics of the theory of sexuality. . . . If the reader approaches the text prepared for its dense theoretical content, one will be rewarded with a well thought-out and novel approach to the modern system of sexuality.”

M.M.L. Arthur | Archives of Sexual Behavior

“Angelides presents a provocative and ambitious account of bisexuality from its modern origins in theories of evolution, through sexology and psychoanalysis, to its scant mentions in the canon of queer theory. . . . In its breadth and attention to historical detail, <I>A History of Bisexuality<I> represents a significant advance on earlier work. In particular, the book’s central claim that the erasure of bisexuality is necessary for the production of modern sexuality has significant implications for contemporary and historical studies of sexuality.”

Lachlan MacDowall | Cultural Studies Review

“There is much to recommend in the book. It introduces the social science study of bisexuality, working through the current literature tidily. . . . It then works clearly through its two principal case studies, psychoanalysis  and sexual politics, before drawing the debate together and simultaneously broadening it out through the discussion of the new sexual sciences. It has the consistent voice of a single-authored text. . . . It also finds a measured, even sober way to deal with bisexuality, resisting the hyperbole of what we might see as a willfully ‘postmodern’ brand of theorizing.”

David Bell | Gender, Place and Culture

Table of Contents

1 Introducing Bisexuality
Part 1 Constructing Sexual Identity
2 Science and the Invention of (Bi)Sexuality
3 "The Unsolved Figure in the Carpet"
4 The Pink Threat
Part 2 Deconstructing Sexual Identity
5 The Repressed Returns
6 Sexuality and Subjection
7 The Queer Intervention
8 Beyond Sexuality

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