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Rebecca Louise Davis
University of Delaware (Newark, DE 19716-0099)
Sex in America: A History

Research and writing a narrative history on the social meanings attached to sexual behaviors in the U.S. from the colonial period to the present.   

If most people have some knowledge of sex, very few know its history. Sex in America will be the first single-volume history of sex in America published in over thirty years, a narrative history of sexuality for general readers. Sex in America spans five centuries in the region that became the United States. It introduces readers to a sexual past that is both familiar and strange by illuminating how the meanings people gave to sexual desires and behaviors changed over time. This project emphasizes the desires and experiences of diverse people of color, the history of gender fluidity, and the importance of sexuality to nation building. The book’s capacious scope permits readers to identify connections across topics, such as queer desires, sexual violence, reproductive labor, and erotic enticement. This book provides a history of sex whose importance transcends isolated experiences or identities, one that reveals contexts and conflicts at the heart of the American past.

Project fields:
Gender Studies; U.S. History; Women's History

Public Scholars

Research Programs

$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2022 – 12/31/2022