CfP: Heterosexual Histories: Collected Essays about Sexuality, Norms, and U.S. History (Publication); DL: 15.01.2016

Editor: Rebecca L. Davis, Associate Professor of History, University of Delaware; Consulting Editor: Michele Mitchell, Associate Professor of History, New York University

Call for Proposals due: January 15, 2016

Decades of scholarship have brought considerable nuance, specificity, and intersectional agency to the history of same-sex desires and identities. Most historians of sexuality pause, or at least acknowledge anachronism, before naming a “homosexual” or “lesbian” subject from a time before those words existed. Yet “the heterosexual” too often remains a diffuse, ineffable presence, “always already” present and devoid of historical contingency or ambiguity.

This volume of original essays seeks to challenge ahistorical approaches to the heterosexual subject. What is the history of heterosexuality? Who or what is the heterosexual subject, and how has it changed over time? How has the history of heterosexuality intertwined with the histories of race, class, and ethnicity to shape ideas of difference? How and why has it become a normative category of social, economic, and political privilege? Historians of sexuality and gender have begun to historicize heterosexuality in ways that account for its raced, classed, and gendered variations. Yet scholars, teachers, and students of sexuality lack a coherent framework for understanding heterosexuality as a historically specific identity or norm. The heterosexual remains a figure historians write about without fully conceptualizing.

To that end, this anthology is accepting proposals for scholarship that critically examines heterosexuality as a problematic, contested, and intersectional subject of historical analysis. Essays may focus on any facet of heterosexuality, from the eighteenth century through the present, within and/or across the shifting borders of the United States, or in a transnational U.S. perspective. Such an expansive geographic and chronological scope will help scholars, public intellectuals, and students understand how sexual identities change over time; how race and class shape heterosexuality; and how heteronormativity coexists with and informs fears of racial, sexual, and gender deviance. Heterosexual Histories will approach heterosexuality as an inherently opaque and equivocal category of historical inquiry, through which historians constitute and interpret heterosexual subjects, identities, norms, and politics.

Possible topics include the history of heterosexuality and:

  • bodies / disability / psychiatry / psychology / medical science / social science / social work
  • courtship and dating / sexual practices / marriage / cohabitation / divorce / same-sex activity
  • age / youth / childhood / adolescence / generational changes
  • war / colonialism / imperialism / militarization
  • tribal, racial, or ethnic identities / racial or ethnic discrimination
  • nations / citizenship / the state / immigration / social welfare / formal politics / political culture
  • political economy / class relations / labor relations / capitalism / professionalization
  • oral history / intergenerational cultural transmission / community formation
  • commercialized sex / sex work / consumer culture / popular culture / mass culture / media
  • pregnancy / childbirth / childlessness / reproductive politics / fertility
  • crime / criminal justice system / incarceration
  • civil rights / social protest / radicalism / conservatism / movement politics
  • religious rituals /religious institutions, leaders, or communities /personal beliefs
  • education / literacy / print culture /visual culture
  • expressive culture / sartorial practices / architecture and design / material culture

Please send an abstract of no more than 500 words to by January 15, 2016, along with a one-page CV. Authors will be notified by April 2016. The due date for completed drafts (of 6,000 to 9,000 words) is December 15, 2016.

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