Criminal Intimacy: Prison and the Uneven History of Modern American Sexuality

Criminal Intimacy Prison and the Uneven History of Modern American Sexuality Sex is usually assumed to be a closely guarded secret of prison life But it has long been the subject of intense scrutiny by both prison administrators and reformers as well as a source of fascination

  • Title: Criminal Intimacy: Prison and the Uneven History of Modern American Sexuality
  • Author: Regina G. Kunzel
  • ISBN: 9780226462264
  • Page: 115
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Sex is usually assumed to be a closely guarded secret of prison life But it has long been the subject of intense scrutiny by both prison administrators and reformers as well as a source of fascination and anxiety for the American public Historically, sex behind bars has evoked radically different responses from professionals and the public alike In Criminal Intimacy, ReSex is usually assumed to be a closely guarded secret of prison life But it has long been the subject of intense scrutiny by both prison administrators and reformers as well as a source of fascination and anxiety for the American public Historically, sex behind bars has evoked radically different responses from professionals and the public alike In Criminal Intimacy, Regina Kunzel tracks these varying interpretations and reveals their foundational influence on modern thinking about sexuality and identity Historians have held the fusion of sexual desire and identity to be the defining marker of sexual modernity, but sex behind bars, often involving otherwise heterosexual prisoners, calls those assumptions into question By exploring the sexual lives of prisoners and the sexual culture of prisons over the past two centuries along with the impact of a range of issues, including race, class, and gender sexual violence prisoners rights activism and the HIV epidemic Kunzel discovers a world whose surprising plurality and mutability reveals the fissures and fault lines beneath modern sexuality itself Drawing on a wide range of sources, including physicians, psychiatrists, sociologists, correctional administrators, journalists, and prisoners themselves as well as depictions of prison life in popular culture Kunzel argues for the importance of the prison to the history of sexuality and for the centrality of ideas about sex and sexuality to the modern prison In the process, she deepens and complicates our understanding of sexuality in America.

    One thought on “Criminal Intimacy: Prison and the Uneven History of Modern American Sexuality”

    1. So amazing! Tracking how sex in prison has confounded sociological explanations of modern homo- and hetero-sexuality for decades; how discourses/panics about sexual violence in prisons are deeply homophobic and racist; and how imprisoned people have resisted gender/sex policing (from both prison authorities and emergent gay political movements). Also loved the chapter on 'lessons in being gay' about lesbian and gay prisoner solidarity activism in the 1970s and its minimisation in conjunction wit [...]

    2. quite possibly the best and most fully-rendered history of sexuality i've ever read. there's an over-reliance on published sources, reports, etc. (how could there not be, for the late 1800s/early 1900s/mid 1900s) but anything beyond that is splitting hairs (well, that and the last chapter, "lessons in being gay," which feels like it belongs in different but no less important book). one thing, however: kunzel does what lots of brilliant historians do, which is hammer home thematic chapter ideas a [...]

    3. An interesting look at the interactions of our understanding of sex in prison, as compared to our understanding of sex in general, as they have evolved and mutually effected one another over the past century. Show that prisons and prisoners are not on the periphery, but rather are at the heart of sexual discussions.

    4. most study's were before 1960 and so it did not tell me anything about the here and now. Just how it evolved from the 1800's.

    5. Kunzel uses the prison as a window onto the anxieties and changing frames about same-sex sexual behavior and identity. Drawing on social science, autobiography, films, pulp novels, and social movement newsletters, Kunzel exposes the contradictions sex in prison poses for established categories.

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