Today’s interview on New Books in History is with Dr. Marta Vicente, Professor of History at the University of Kansas to talk about her 2017 Cambridge University Press release, Debating Sex and Gender in Eighteenth-Century Spain.
Eighteenth-century debates continue to set the terms of modern-day discussions on how ‘nature and nurture’ shape sex and gender. Current dialogs – from the tension between ‘real’ and ‘ideal’ bodies, to how nature and society shape sexual difference – date back to the early modern period. Debating Sex and Gender is an innovative study of the creation of a two=sex modern of human sexuality based on different genitalia within Spain, reflecting the enlightened quest to promote social reproduction and stability. Drawing on primary sources such as medical treatises and legal literature, Vicente traces the lives of individuals whose ambiguous sex and gender made them examples for physicians, legislators, and educators for how nature, family upbringing, education, and the social environment shaped an individual’s sex. This book brings together insights form the histories of sexuality, medicine, and the law to shed new light on this timely and important field of study.
Jana Byars is the Academic Director of Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender.
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