Histories of Sexuality and Religion in the 20th Century United States --CFP

Histories of Sexuality and Religion in the 20th Century United States
Call for Proposals, due October 1, 2013
Editors: Gillian Frank, Bethany Moreton, and Heather White

The time has come to think about the intertwined histories of religion and sexuality in the 20th century United States. In this twenty-fifth anniversary year of D’Emilio and Freedman’s landmark Intimate Matters, the study of the history of sexuality has become one of the most exciting and challenging areas of intellectual inquiry. Historians have investigated how sexuality has been central to the political, social, and cultural history of the United States. Yet few historians of sexuality have attended to the important ways that religious practices, identities, beliefs, institutions and politics have shaped sexual politics, sexual communities and sexual identities over the course of the twentieth century. Likewise, historians of religion in the twentieth century have only recently begun to account for the changing meanings of sexuality to religious identities, politics, practices and beliefs. To that end, this anthology is accepting proposals for historical scholarship that places the categories of religion and sexuality at the center of its analysis in order to map the interrelation of changing religious and sexual landscapes. We welcome chapters—new or previously published in article form—that take religion as a starting point for rethinking American sexual history and sexuality as a starting point for rethinking American religious history. Submissions that respond to the following questions are particularly encouraged:

·         How does focusing on religion enrich our understanding of the histories of sexualized racial formations; GLBTQ identities, communities and politics; sexual health or disease, eugenics, and social hygiene; commercialized sexuality (e.g., sex work, pornography, performance, popular culture); sexuality and technology; contraception and abortion; courtship, marriage, and divorce; reproduction and adoption; sex advice and sexual therapy; sexual subcultures; the law and sexuality (e.g., immigration, workplace discrimination, criminal sexuality); abstinence or chastity; and heterosexuality?

·         How does nuanced attention to sexuality reshape conventional narratives of twentieth century religious history—the formation of “Judeo-Christian,” “Abrahamic” and similar categories for understanding inter-religious relationships; the meanings and influence of non-Western and indigenous practices in U.S. culture; the meanings and influence of secularity, secularization, and the secular; practices and narratives of therapeutic spirituality; religious formations of racial, ethnic, sexual, gender identity/ies; and religious practices and narratives of “tradition” and “modernity” alongside historical continuity and change?

·         What discursive and material contexts and practices constructed the relationship between religion and sexuality?
·         In what social institutions did religious and sexual experiences and ideas intersect?
·         How have sexual and religious identities been constructed in relation or opposition to each other?
·         In what ways did sexual subcultures and communities engage with mainstream religions?
·         How did religious authorities, ideas and institutions respond to or shape sexual values, meanings, practices and identities?
·         How did religious authorities’ ideas about (and policing of) sexual norms and deviancies change over time?  How did religious authorities, groups or institutions inform or enforce social rules about sexual behavior? How did they shape and reshape dominant sexual meanings?
·         How did religious groups create alternative sexual subcultures?
·         How did religion shape discourses of sexuality, whether normative or oppositional?
·         In what ways did changing sexual values reshape religious groups, identities and practices?

Please send an abstract of no more than 500 words to sexualityreligionhistory@gmail.com by October 1, 2013, along with a 1-page CV. Authors will be notified of decisions by January of 2014. The due date for completed drafts (of between 5000 and 8000 words) is September 1, 2014.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with preliminary inquiries. 


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