Tag Archives: sexuality

New book! Sexology and Translation: Cultural and Scientific Encounters Across the Modern World

I’m very happy to announce this collection of essays, which will be published in October.

Orders placed before 1 October will get money off with this promo code: T20P.

2363_reg

Sexology and Translation: Cultural and Scientific Encounters Across the Modern World, edited by Heike Bauer.

Sexuality Studies Series, edited by Janice Irvince and Regina Kuenzel.
Temple University Press.
284 pp
paper: 978-1-43991-249-2
cloth: 978-1-43991-248-5
ebook 978-1-43991-250-8

CONTENTS

Introduction: Translation and the Global Histories of Sexuality
• Heike Bauer 1

Part I. Conceptualizations

1 Translation as Lexical Invention: An Intellectual History
of Frigiditas and Anaphrodisia • Peter Cryle 19

2 Translation as Transposition: Leopold von Sacher-Masoch,
Darwinian Thought, and the Concept of Love in German
Sexual Modernity • Birgit Lang 37

3 Representing the “Third Sex”: Cultural Translations
of the Sexological Encounter in Early Twentieth-Century
Germany • Katie Sutton 53

4 Data of Desire: Translating (Homo)Sexology in Republican China
• Howard Chiang 72

Part II. Formations

5 British Sexual Science beyond the Medical: Cross-Disciplinary,
Cross-Historical, and Cross-Cultural Translations
• Kate Fisher and Jana Funke 95

6 Translating Sexology in Late-Tsarist and Early-Soviet Russia:
Politics, Literature, and the Science of Sex
• Brian James Baer 115

7 Translating Sexology, Writing the Nation: Sexual Discourse and
Practice in Hebrew and Arabic in the 1930s • Liat Kozma 135

8 Translation and Two “Chinese Sexologies”: Double Plum and
Sex Histories • Leon Antonio Rocha 154

Part III. Dis/Identifications

9 Novel Translations of the Scientific Subject: Clorinda Matto
de Turner, Margarita Práxedes Muñoz, and the Gendered
Shaping of Discourses of Desire in Nineteenth-Century Peru
• Jennifer Fraser 179

10 The Translation of Edward Carpenter’s The Intermediate
Sex in Early Twentieth-Century Japan • Michiko Suzuki 197

11 Translation and the Construction of a “Uranian” Identity:
Edward Prime-Stevenson’s [Xavier Mayne’s] The Intersexes
(1908) • James P. Wilper 216

12 Suicidal Subjects: Translation and the Affective Foundations
of Magnus Hirschfeld’s Sexology • Heike Bauer 233

*****

Sexology and Translation: Cultural and Scientific Encounters Across the Modern World can be pre-ordered from Temple University Press http://www.temple.edu/tempress/titles/2363_reg.html

2 Oct. 2014: Travels with Hirschfeld

Taking stock after a busy summer of writing, researching and travelling, I realised that since starting this project I have now been to quite a few of the many places Hirschfeld visited during his lifetime. My map of these places excludes those cities I visited in pursuit of Hirschfeld archives but which had not been visited by him during his lifetime (the Kinsey Library in Bloomington Indiana is one such example).

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 15.34.51

Of course is it well-known that Hirschfeld was an avid traveller. For most of his life, his journeys focused on Europe and North America. But in 1930, under increasing threat of attack from the rising Nazi party, he left Berlin to lecture in the United States. The trip formed the beginning of a journey that would lead Hirschfeld to circumvent the globe as he travelled across the US, Asia and the Middle East before returning Europe where he died in exile in Nice in 1935.

Hirschfeld published an account of this journey, entitled Die Weltreise eines Sexualforschers, which was translated into English by O.P. Green and published under the title Women East and West: Impressions of a Sex Expert in the U.K., while the title of the U.S. version stayed somewhat closer to the original with Men and Women: The World Journey of a Sexologist.

The book is of particular interest for me, not primarily for its depiction of foreign places, although I always make sure to read what he has to say about a city I’m about to visit. Instead I am intrigued by the evidence of Hirschfeld’s many international connections and friendships with reformers around the world. This material indicates the many links that existed in the 1920s and early 1930 between social reformers, medical researchers,  writers and artists from around the world.

My autumn task is to write-up research on Hirschfeld’s international links and what they reveal about the development and reception of his ideas at that moment in time before the events of World War II so brutally reconfigured the boundaries of intellectual exchange and collaboration. I aim aided in this task by a new, less violent, shift in scholarly boundaries: the insights gained from the work of scholars of sexuality in Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East.* Then and now, it seems, studies of the constructions and representations of sexuality, its politics and the everyday realities attached to sexual categories necessitate interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches that look across time and space to explore how bodies and desires are normalized and instrumentalized and well as collectively affirmed and celebrated in the name of ‘sexuality’.

* Click here for a special issue on ‘Transnational Lesbian Cultures’  I edited with Churnjeet Mahn for the Journal of Lesbian Studies. I also includes an article by me on books, difficult feelings and the graphic memoirs of Alison Bechdel.

 

21 Feb. 2014. Musical Inversions: Ethel Smyth

Ethel Smyth and her Old English Sheepdog, Pan: http://www.52composers.com/ethel-smyth.html

Ethel Smyth and her Old English Sheepdog, Pan: http://www.52composers.com/ethel-smyth.html

The queer past has an extraordinary sensory presence in the twenty-first century.  Last Wednesday, I went to an excellent event dedicated to the life and music of Ethel Smyth (1854-1944). Organised by the University of Surrey as part of LGBT History Month, the evening paid particular attention to the musical career of Smyth, a composer, writer, suffragette and dog lover whose ‘The March of the Women‘, written for the Women’s Social and Political Union, became the anthem of the British suffragette movement.

The event started off with an informative and entertaining talk by Dr Christopher Wiley on the relationship between Smyth’s music and her lesbianism – her most today best known relationship was with the famous suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. With the help of violinists Sophie Langdon, pianist Maureen Galea and members of the University of Surrey Chamber Choir, Wiley brought to life Smyth’s music. He demonstrated the breadth of Smyth’s oeuvre, which included, for example, operas, orchestral works and chamber music; and he also explained how the music reflected developments in Smyth’s own life such as her love for Elisabeth ‘Lisl’ von Herzogenberg, the wife of Smyth’s teacher, the composer and conductor Heinrich von Herzogenberg.

I was particularly interested to learn that one of Smyth’s early pieces, which was composed during her time with the von Herzogenbergs in Germany, makes use of a technique of ‘inversion’, here meaning that the closing notes appear in reverse order of the opening notes. While I have written a book on ‘inversion’, this is the first time that I have come across the use of the concept in a musical context.

‘Inversion’ emerged as a concept associated with what we would now call sexual identity in 1860s, in the affirmative writings on same-sex love by the Hanoverian lawyer Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895). Ulrichs argued that men who desire men have ‘a female soul’ within their male body. Women who desire other women in turn were seen to have a ‘male soul’ inside their female body (it tells us something about the gendered contexts of these debates that Ulrichs felt prompted to note that he assumed that female same-sex love existed but did not personally know any women who love women).

While the terminology of the ‘invert’ would eventually give way in the early twentieth-century to the ‘lesbian’ and the ‘homosexual’, inversion itself has become one of the most pervasive concepts in modern debates about sexuality. Indeed, ideas about ‘mannish lesbians’ and ‘effeminate gay men’ continue to circulate quite widely in twenty-first century debates about sexuality.

Virginia Woolf and Dame Ethel Smyth. New York Public Library IMAGE ID: 484383

Virginia Woolf and Dame Ethel Smyth. New York Public Library IMAGE ID: 484383

Today, ‘inversion’ is often invoked as part of negative stereotyping. In the late 1870s and 1880s, however, when Ethel Smyth was falling in love with a woman in Germany while honing her skills as a composer, many women and men whose desires ran against the heterosexual grain happily self-identified as inverts. Most famously, perhaps, the rebellion against gender and sexual norms was expressed through dress – Virginia Woolf, Smyth’s unrequited love when the latter was in her early 70s, once described the composer’s dress affectionately as ‘tweeds and spats [with] a little cock’s feather in your felt, and a general look of angry energy’.

Chris Wiley’s talk has alerted me to the existence of a whole new dimension to modern sexual
Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 16.31.03politics. For Ethel Smyth’s composition suggests that sexuality and gender were reshaped in and through music as well as literature, art and politics. From now on, then, I will be listening out for Smyth’s musical inversions and the queer echoes that follow them across time.

 

11 Feb. 2014: Words for ’77 Countries Where Being Gay is a Crime’

Reading the news over lunch, I was drawn to a BBC news item entitled ‘Banned Love: 77 countries where being gay is a crime’. Clicking on the link led me to this short article and the following world map (click on the link for a better view):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-25927595http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-25927595

As it happens, I had been spending the morning thinking about Jasbir Puar’s work on homonationalism. Puar coined the term to develop a framework for exploring ‘how “acceptance” and “tolerance” for gay and lesbian subjects have become a barometer by which the right to and capacity for national sovereignity is evaluated’ in the contemporary world. Or, to phrase this differently, homonationalism describes a historical shift in the treatment of homosexual bodies, as the question of whether or not homosexuality is a crime has come – for certain nation-states and in certain contexts – to be seen as indicative of a nation’s degree of ‘modernity’ or ‘civilisation’.

The critical concept of homonationalism has been taken up in particularly contested ways in relation to debates about Israel-Palestine where some anti-occupation campaigners have accused Israel of ‘pinkwashing’ – using LGBT rights rhetoric to legitimise its occupation of Palestine – while in turn being taken to task for problematic conflations of Jewishness with Israel (see Judith Butler’s thoughts on the topic here).

As modern notions of sexual identity have been shaped by colonialism and the racialised ideas ideas and practices that have become ‘knowledge’ in Western (post) enlightenment thinking, and as words such as ‘homosexuality’ were coined specifically in relation to political debates about state-formations in Europe, I think it is right that we should be cautious about using the language of lesbian and gay identity in global terms. At the same time, however, I also think it is important to make speakable and to speak out against the prosecution and the denial of lives that are lived against the (sexual and gendered) norms of the societies in which they are located.

Looking back to Magnus Hirschfeld’s ‘gay rights activism’ a hundred or so years ago, I’m trying to trace some of the conscious and unconscious ties between sexual reform debates and racialist thinking at the time. I am helped along the way by the words of Stuart Hall, the influential cultural theorist who died yesterday. Hall once suggested that the metaphor of theoretical work is ‘the metaphor of struggle …. [for] the only theory worth having is that which you have to fight off, not that which you speak with profound fluency.’ As someone working with and across languages, times and contexts, the struggle for words lies at the heart of my own research. The stakes are high, for in debates about inequality, injustice and persecution, the process of struggling-for-words is intimately connected to individual and collective existence .

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30 Jan. 2014: Race. Sexuality. And The Same Old Gendered Order of Things?

I’m just beginning to read Chandan Reddy’s Freedom with Violence: Race, Sexuality and the U.S State (2011). The book critiques the way neoliberal societies (here: the U.S.) construct narratives of freedom around rights and anti-hate legislation that perpetuates state violence. Reddy ‘argues for modes of critique from the perspective of queers of colour, modes consciously and formatively tied in to critical ethnic studies. We might say,’ he writes, ‘that race is the political unconscious of sexuality, in its current mode as an amendment to twentieth-century orders of legitimate violence’ (p.17).

I have not yet read my way through the full extent of Reddy’s thought-provoking study, but I am particularly interested in exploring how his U.S.-focused insights translate into German and English contexts. For thinking about ‘race [as] the political unconscious of sexuality’ undoubtedly opens up important new perspectives on the relationship between colonialism and the political rights campaigns of early homosexual activists such as Magnus Hirschfeld, and it also raises fresh questions about the relationship between race and sexuality during the Nazi regime, and its legacies.

As always, I am also interested in locating questions of gender in these debates. Given Reddy’s focus on dismantling deeply entrenched power structures, I was taken aback to find that he uses the abbreviation ‘GLBTQ’ when discussing sexual subcultures and politics. In my experience of sexual debates in the U.K. the abbreviation is usually rendered ‘LGBTQ’. I too use ‘LGBTQ’, putting ‘lesbian’ first as a deliberate feminist challenge to the male primacy within patriarchal language.

Image

So why is ‘GLBTQ’ still in use? A quick internet search brought me to GLBTQ.com, an ‘encyclopaedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer culture’. In 2003, someone questioned the abbreviation on the site’s discussion forum, receiving the following response:

‘The G, L, B, T, and Q in our name are meant to convey a sense of unity while recognising the distinctive characteristics of the many groups that comprise our community. The order in which the letters appear is arbitrary, and is not intended to convey any historical or other priority for any particular group.’

This reply seems to me misguided. For the order of these letters is not ‘arbitrary’, but the product of a cultural unconscious that renders women second to men. Language and the unconscious have their own contingencies, of course. Could the use of GLBTQ versus LGBTQ be culturally specific, with the former more frequently used in the U.S.?

Feminist debates about language may not be particularly fashionable at the moment, but the question of where women – and gender – are located in political, socio-cultural and theoretical discourse remains absolutely central to any critique of power.

16 January 2014: Announcing Queer 1950s Book Launch in February!

I’m really pleased to announce the informal launch event to celebrate the publication of

queer 1950s

Queer 1950s: Rethinking Sexuality in the Postwar Years

Edited by Heike Bauer and Matt Cook.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014, 6.00-8.00pm. Keynes Library, 43-46 Gordon Square, Birkbeck,

Examining queer lives, literatures and cultures in Finland, France, Germany, New Zealand, the UK and the USA, the collection brings together scholars from across the humanities to reassess what we (think we) know about sexuality in the first full postwar decade and its legacies.

Free. All Welcome.

Supported by BiGS and the Departments of English & Humanities, and History, Birkbeck.

Queer1950sLaunchInvitation[smallpdf.com]

3 January 2014: CFP: Homophobia Rewritten

I’m looking forward to spending 2014 working on A Violent World of Difference: Magnus Hirschfeld and the Shaping of Queer Modernity.

The project is being launched with a Call-for-Papers for Homophobia Rewritten: New Literary Perspectives on Violence and Sexuality, a one-day symposium I’m organising at Birkbeck on Friday 13 June 2014. The brilliant Alison Donnell, Professor of Modern Literature at Reading University, will be presenting the keynote. Further details can be found on the CFP page on this blog.