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Sexuality in World History (Themes in World History) [Paperback]

Peter N. Stearns

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Book Description

16 Feb 2009 0415777771 978-0415777773

'Expansive and accessible, Peter Stearns' Sexuality in World History offers a much needed introduction to histories of sexuality from a global perspective.' – Mary Spongberg- Head of Department of Modern History, Macquarie University, USA

This book examines sexuality in the past, and explores how it helps explain sexuality in the present. The subject of sexuality is often a controversial one, and exploring it through a world history perspective emphasises the extent to which societies, including our own, are still reacting to historical change through contemporary sexual behaviours, values, and debates.

The study uses a clear chronological structure to focus on major patterns and changes in sexuality – both sexual culture and sexual behaviours – in the main periods of world history, with comparison and discussion across cultures and societies. Topics covered include:

  • issues involved in studying the history of sexuality
  • the sexual implications of the transition from hunting and gathering economies to agricultural economies
  • sexuality in Classical societies
  • the post-Classical period and the spread of the world religions
  • sex in an age of trade and colonies
  • changes in sexual behaviours and sexual attitudes between 1750 and 1950
  • sex in contemporary world history.

The book is a vital contribution to the study of world history, and is the perfect companion for all students of the history of sexuality.


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'It is... impressive that Stearns provides a concise, readable overview of the topic from the beginning of settled agriculture to the 21st century and covers most areas of the world without sacrificing nuance or oversimplifying his subject. This book synthesizes a large body of secondary literature using a fresh, interesting approach...He is careful to emphasize that no single statement about sexuality can truly encompass the full range of human experience, but he offers a thoughtful analysis of the major trends over time. An excellent introduction to a large and growing body of scholarship.' Choice (Outstanding title)

About the Author

Peter N. Stearns is Provost and Professor of History at George Mason University. He is co- author of Premodern Travel in World History (2008), and author of Gender in World History (2nd edition 2006), Consumerism in World History (2nd edition 2006), Childhood in World History (2005), and Western Civilization in World History (2003), all in this series. His other recent publications include The Global Experience (2005) and World History in Brief (2007).


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. 22 Feb 2014
By William R. Toddmancillas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Mercy but Peter Stearns is prolific. Not only that, but his works are well written and informative. This little book explains clearly how since the beginning of agriculture all cultures have developed patriarchies only successfully challenged during the past 150 years. It is particularly interesting how cultures have both clashed and mutually influenced one another in distilling ever changing sex and gender roles.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not detailed enough. 13 July 2012
By Simon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really didn't learn anything from this book. This book really glossed over many things and never really got "into" the subject matter until the imperialist era. The auther also used a very vauge tone that contained little actual information.

All that was said more or less about hindu, ancient chinese and native american sexuality is that is focused more on pleasure than western and that europians viewed these cultures as "exotic." He never explained what any of them were like. He mentioned ancient sex manuals but never what was contained in them. He seemed to really really want to discuss europian attitudes and exploitation of native and eastern women. He also did go somewhat into Victorian ideas (the other side of the same theme.)

All in all this book was way too short to do what I wanted it to do. I'm in the middle of Sex in History by Reay Tannahill and I find it to be a much better "starting place" book for sexual history.
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