Transnational Sexualities (MSA 14. Las Vegas. 18-21 Oct. 2012) [Due March 22]

full name / name of organization: 
Jennifer Mitchell
contact email: 
mitchell.jen@gmail.com

Transnational Sexualities

Recent scholarship in the humanities and modernism reveals the desire and demand for more transnational approaches to literature and history. This panel aims to bring such a methodology to bear on the interdisciplinary discourses of sexology and sexuality. The late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century saw the emergence of an extensive and complex language that helped establish a new spectrum of sexual identities. Sexology, including the work of Richard von Krafft-Ebing and Havelock Ellis, set the stage for the development of modern understandings of sex and gender; yet, the process by which such concepts were brought into public and private conversations reflects the conflict between the impulse to recognize and legitimize and the impulse to diagnose and criminalize. Such conflict intensified the spectacle of sexuality incited by the releases and translations of Psychopathia Sexualis and Studies in the Psychology of Sex, among other foundational texts. At times, such language emerged in isolation from other international discourses, but more often than not, it was part of a comprehensive transatlantic economy of ideas. Up until now, this international exchange has been left largely unexplored.

The publication of Heike Bauer’s English Literary Sexology (2009) exposed the public to the connection between literature and sexology as manifest in the figure of the invert. By broadening the subject—focusing on various ideas, figures, cases, and claims related to sexology and sexuality—and by narrowing the chronology, this panel is a critical consideration of the relationship between circulating ideas about sexuality and the development of modernist aesthetics and identities. In particular, this conversation contributes directly to a recognition of sexual theory and identity as integral parts of any understanding of the relationship between modernism and spectacle. We welcome papers across disciplines that can shed light on the international ties that constituted this network. Submissions might include those that demonstrate the international context of a sexual identity or inclination (i.e. the influence of Austrian theories of sexual deviance), the dissemination of particular sexological claims across several national cultures (i.e. masturbation in France, Germany, and England), the connections between the global avant-garde and sexological or sexual theories (i.e. aesthetic experimentation and sexual degeneracy), and pseudo-scientific racial theories tied to sexual proclivities (Jewishness and masochism). Salient questions may include: How does the emergence of international sexology influence modernism? How do issues of the modern manifest themselves in the ideas of sexology? Where and in what works can we locate overlaps and intersections between modernism and sexology?

Possible topics to consider:
-sexological influence in the works of a given author
-modernist contributions to the development and dissemination of sexology
-historical approaches to the relationship between modernism and sexology
-technologies of sex in literature
-mass production and the reproduction of the masses
-political sex scandals and the body politic
-fascism and the body
-influences of sexological case studies on literature, and vice versa

Please submit 500 word abstract and curriculum vitae to mitchell.jen@gmail.com by March 22, 2012. The intention is to move towards an edited collection based on the success of the panel itself.

cfp categories: 
african-american
american
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
ethnicity_and_national_identity
gender_studies_and_sexuality
interdisciplinary
modernist studies
poetry
postcolonial
science_and_culture
theory
twentieth_century_and_beyond