Visual Histories of Sex: Collecting, Curating, Archiving,” Radical History Review 2022 (142): 1-18. Co-authors: Heike Bauer, Melina Pappademos, & Katie Sutton. [Free online pdf access through Duke Univ. Press]

Abstract: Increased access to visual archives and the proliferation of digitized images related to sexuality have led a growing number of scholars in recent years to place images and visual practices at the center of critical historical inquiries of sexual desire, subjectivity, and embodiment. At the same time, new critical histories of sexual science serve both to expand the temporal and geographical frames for investigating the historical relationships of sex and visual production, and to generate new lines of inquiry and reshape visual studies more broadly.

The contributors to this issue invite us to ask: What new questions and challenges for the study of sex and sexual science are posed by critical studies of the visual? How are new visual methodologies that focus on archives changing the contours of historical knowledge about sex and sexuality? What—and where—are new methodologies still needed? “Visual Archives of Sex” aims to illuminate current research that centers visual media in the history of sexuality and that interrogates contemporary historiographies.


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Jennifer Tucker is a historian who studies the interrelations of art and science, photography, and mass visual culture, with a specialization in 19th to mid-20th century British, U.S., and trans-Pacific history. The common threads in her diverse research fields are the dynamics of visual media in modern history, the nature of evidence, public perceptions and practices of history, and the interrelationships of science, technology, and the law.

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