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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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Normal Soap and Elastic Hymens

Normal Soap and Elastic Hymens

Historicizing the Modern Norms of Sexuality

(p.164) 5 Normal Soap and Elastic Hymens
Disturbing Practices

Laura Doan

University of Chicago Press

This chapter assesses the epistemic ramifications of a queer history dependent on conceptual tools inherited from early sexology, notably the impulse to categorize based on binaries. Turning to the slander case of Florence Eva Harley, it examines the queer elision of “normal” and “norm” that haunts queer historical work. The chapter offers a new perspective on how it is possible to test the limits of a conceptual framework operating outside the oppositional tensions of normative/queer, to gauge the legibility of sexuality outside the precarious nature of normativity, and to locate new pathways in comprehending the fluidity of female sexualities.

Keywords:   queer history, Florence Eva Harley, slander, female sexuality, normativity

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