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Disturbing PracticesHistory, Sexuality, and Women’s Experience of Modern War$
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Laura Doan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226001586

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226001753.001.0001

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Gender, Sexuality, and the Problem of Categorization

(p.97) 3 Topsy-Turvydom
Disturbing Practices

Laura Doan

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines how gender historians and historians of sexuality each discuss World War I’s disruptive effects in bringing together large numbers of like-minded women in war work and the military, but reach separate conclusions about the nature and significance of homosociality as a source of cultural anxiety. The former shows little interest in how the war contributed to the development of a more coherent narrative of female homosexual identity or distinct models of female homosexuality; their larger concerns focus on the perceived changes in the moral and social regulation of sexual relations between women and men. Historians of lesbianism, on the other hand, regard World War I as a turning point in the way in which homosexuality was represented.

Keywords:   gender historians, historians of sexuality, World War I, homosociality, cultural anxiety, female homosexuality, lesbianism

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