An American Obsession by Jennifer Terry
Science, Medicine, and Homosexuality in Modern Society

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Synopsis

Drawing on original research from medical texts, psychiatric case histories, pioneering statistical surveys, first-person accounts, legal cases, sensationalist journalism, and legislative debates, Jennifer Terry has written a nuanced and textured history of how the century-old obsession with homosexuality is deeply tied to changing American anxieties about social and sexual order in the modern age.

Terry's overarching argument is compelling: that homosexuality served as a marker of the "abnormal" against which malleable, tenuous, and often contradictory concepts of the "normal" were defined. One of the few histories to take into consideration homosexuality in both women and men, Terry's work also stands out in its refusal to erase the agency of people classified as abnormal. She documents the myriad ways that gays, lesbians, and other sexual minorities have coauthored, resisted, and transformed the most powerful and authoritative modern truths about sex. Proposing this history as a "useable past," An American Obsession is an indispensable contribution to the study of American cultural history.
 

About Jennifer Terry

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assistant professor of comparative studies at The Ohio State University.
 
Published December 15, 1999 by University Of Chicago Press. 551 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Gay & Lesbian. Non-fiction

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While her broad survey is vital to the book, Terry's real strength is her detailed explorations of individual groups--such as the Committee for the Study of Sex Variants, a multidisciplinary group of physicians and scientists who, in 1935, attempted to understand the ""problem"" of homosexuality ...

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