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IHR History of Sexuality Seminar: Ivan Crozier (University of Sydney)
19th January 2016 @ 17:15 - 19:15Free
Culturally Situating Sadism and Masochism in Havelock Ellis’s Love and Pain: the uses of history and anthropology in the construction of sexual kinds, Ivan Crozier (University of Sydney)
The seminar series is convened by the Raphael Samuel History Centre. All seminars are open to all and there is no need to register in advance. If you have any questions about the seminar please contact Craig Griffiths at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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For the first part of the twentieth century, sadomasochism was an object well within the control of sexology and psychiatry. Because they were allied to psychiatry, sexologists paid particular attention to the sex lives of individuals who enjoyed pain or humiliation; because they were sympathetic to biology, they looked to studies of the natural world to ground their universal theories of the sexual impulse. And as the names Sadism and Masochism suggest, sexologists also drew on literary traditions that contributed to the construction of ideas about the eroticisation of pain.
This paper looks at another important part of this sexological construction of sadism and masochism – the use of historical and anthropological sources as evidence for the universalism of these sexual categories. It focuses on Havelock Ellis’s work, Love and Pain (1903; 2nd ed. 1913). While it is still important to situate this text in relation to the field of other sexological and psychiatric writings derived from case histories of individual’s sexual practices, and in relation to the natural historical understanding of sexualised violence as a part of animal mating behaviours that was used to ‘naturalise’ these sexual tastes, there is a lot of non-psychiatric and non-biological source material in this book that Ellis drew upon in order to construct his understanding of algophilia. By examining Ellis’s adaptation of historical and anthropological sources into sexological observation when he was faced with lack of sexual evidence about the kinds of people his works were producing, I seek to rethink how sexological knowledge is constructed by understanding how non-sexological sources are rearticulated into the sexological field.