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Sex Expression and American Women Writers 1860–1940$
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Dale M. Bauer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780807832301

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807887691_bauer

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Blood, Sex, and the Ugly Girl

Blood, Sex, and the Ugly Girl

(p.41) Chapter Two Blood, Sex, and the Ugly Girl
Sex Expression and American Women Writers 1860–1940

Dale M. Bauer

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on the concept of sexology, which it defines as the professional regulation of what was to be considered “normal” or healthy sex instincts. It ostensibly reversed the stifling effects of sentimental culture, a sentimentality still so much with us, especially in our most romantic notions of the practices of physical intimacy. Even the modern obsessive linking of sex with youth and beauty—largely a vestige of early twentieth-century eugenic thinking—grows out of a cultural transition from sentiment to sex. By the end of the century, American literature would revivify sexuality by cleaning it up and replacing sentimental language with the more explicit lexicon of intimate contacts. The chapter also argues that the recovery of the history of sex expression entails an exploration of the evolving relation between sentiment and sexology.

Keywords:   sexology, healthy sex instincts, sentimental culture, physical intimacy, eugenic thinking

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