Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities
The publication in the late-1970s and early-1980s of Michel Foucault’s 3-volume History of Sexuality had an enormous impact on the shaping of research in the humanities and social sciences and on the development of academic history writing in these years. For those working on the cultural history of the Victorian period, Foucault’s writing opened up new ways of understanding the formation of gender and sexual identities and of working with a wide range of archival and primary material. The sexual politics of the nineteenth century were filtered through the sexual politics of the late-twentieth century and methodologies were created that allowed these connections to be explored as fully as possible.
In recent years there has been a return to the history of sexuality in relation to the expanding field of gender and sexual history, but certain questions remain as pressing as they were in the 1970s and 1980s. This panel brings together a number of writers who were working on the history of sexuality in the context of the first publication of Foucault and who are now returning to the subject in their current work. It invites them to consider their original engagement with the history of sexuality and to reflect on how their understanding of and approach to the subject has shifted in the light of recent work in the field.