Attitudes Toward Sex in Antebellum America

Attitudes Toward Sex in Antebellum America

A Brief History with Documents

Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz (Smith College)

  • ISBN-10: 0-312-41226-6; ISBN-13: 978-0-312-41226-5; Format: Paper Text, 208 pages

With this colorful collection of documents, Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz overturns the monolithic picture of Victorian sexual repression to reveal four contending views at play during the antebellum period: earthy American folk wisdom, the anti-flesh teachings of evangelical Christianity, moral reform grounded in science, and the utopian free love movement. Horowitz's introduction discusses how these diverse views shaped the antebellum conversation about the moral, social, and physical implications of sex and reflected the larger cultural and economic changes of this period of rapid industrialization and urban migration. Helpful headnotes contextualize this selection of hard-to-find documents, which includes scientific manuals, religious pamphlets, advertisements, and popular fiction. Contemporary illustrations, a chronology, and a bibliography foster students' understanding of antebellum sexual attitudes.
“In this volume, Horowitz has created a startling and provocative new narrative, presenting a complex understanding and nuanced interpretation of nineteenth-century sexuality. Impressively, she accomplishes this with an economy of words written in lucid, crisp and easy-to-follow prose.”
— Timothy J. Gilfoyle
Loyola University Chicago