Thomas W. Laqueur

Last updated
Thomas W. Laqueur
Laqueur OSA, May 2016.jpg
Laqueur at the Blinken Open Society Archives in Budapest, May 2016.
Thomas Walter Laqueur

(1945-09-06) September 6, 1945 (age 74)
Alma mater Nuffield College, Oxford, Princeton University, Swarthmore College
Known for One sex two sex theory
Awards Rockefeller Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship [1]
Scientific career
Fields History, Sexology
Institutions University of California, Berkeley

Thomas Walter Laqueur (born September 6, 1945) is an American historian, sexologist and writer. He is the author of Solitary Sex : A Cultural History of Masturbation and Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud as well as many articles and reviews. He is the winner of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's 2007 Distinguished Achievement Award, [2] and is currently the Helen Fawcett Distinguished Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley, located in Berkeley, California. [1]

Historian person who studies and writes about the past

A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past, and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is concerned with events preceding written history, the individual is a historian of prehistory. Some historians are recognized by publications or training and experience. "Historian" became a professional occupation in the late nineteenth century as research universities were emerging in Germany and elsewhere.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York City in the United States is a private foundation with five core areas of interest, and endowed with wealth accumulated by Andrew W. Mellon of the Mellon family of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is the product of the 1969 merger of the Avalon Foundation and the Old Dominion Foundation. These foundations were set up separately by Paul Mellon and Ailsa Mellon Bruce, the children of Andrew W. Mellon. It is housed in the expanded former offices of the Bollingen Foundation in New York City, another educational philanthropy supported by Paul Mellon. Elizabeth Alexander is the Foundation's president. Her predecessors have included Earl Lewis, Don Randel, William G. Bowen, John Edward Sawyer, and Nathan Pusey. In 2004, the Foundation was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

University of California, Berkeley Public university in California, USA

The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university in Berkeley, California. It was founded in 1868 and serves as the flagship campus of the ten campuses of the University of California. Berkeley has since grown to instruct over 40,000 students in approximately 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs covering numerous disciplines.



One-sex model

Laqueur wrote that there was an ancient "one-sex model", in which the woman was only described as imperfect man / human and he postulates that definitions of sex/gender were historically different and changeable. [3]

This argument has been challenged by some historians of science, notably Katharine Park and Robert A. Nye; [4] Monica Green, [5] Heinz-Jürgen Voss, [6] and Helen King, [7] who reject the suggestion that ancient descriptions show a homogenous model, the one-sex model which then mutated in the 18th century to a two-sex model. They encourage a more differentiated perception that makes clear that gender theories of natural philosophy as well as biology and medicine, are embedded and constructed in certain social contexts.

Katharine Park is a Radcliffe Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University. She specializes in the history of gender, sexuality, and the female body in medieval and Renaissance Europe, as well as categories and practices of experience and observation in the Middle Ages. She finished an MPhil in the combined historical studies of the Renaissance at the Warburg Institute, University of London in 1974 before earning a PhD in the history of science at Harvard in 1981.

Helen King (classicist) British historian

Helen King is a British classical scholar. She is Professor Emerita of Classical Studies at the Open University. She was previously Professor of the History of Classical Medicine and Head of the Department of Classics at the University of Reading.


P literature.svg This literature-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it .


  • Laqueur, Thomas (2015). The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN   0-691157-78-2.
  • Laqueur, Thomas (2004). Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation. Brooklyn: Zone Books. ISBN   1-890951-32-3.
  • Laqueur, Thomas (1990). Making Sex: Body and Gender From the Greeks to Freud. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN   0-674-54349-1.
  • Gallagher, Catherine; Laqueur, Thomas (1987). The Making of the Modern Body: Sexuality and Society in the Nineteenth Century . Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN   0-520-05960-3.
  • Laqueur, Thomas (1976). Religion and Respectability: Sunday Schools and Working Class Culture, 17801850. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN   0-300-01859-2.
Princeton University Press United States historic place

Princeton University Press is an independent publisher with close connections to Princeton University. Its mission is to disseminate scholarship within academia and society at large.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

Selected Articles

<i>Slate</i> (magazine) U.S.-based online magazine

Slate is an online magazine that covers current affairs, politics, and culture in the United States. It is known—and sometimes criticized—for adopting contrarian views, giving rise to the term "Slate Pitches". It has a generally liberal editorial stance.

See also

Related Research Articles

Judith Butler American philosopher and gender theorist (born 1956)

Judith Pamela Butler is an American philosopher and gender theorist whose work has influenced political philosophy, ethics, and the fields of third-wave feminist, queer, and literary theory. In 1993, she began teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, where she has served, beginning in 1998, as the Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory. She is also the Hannah Arendt Chair at the European Graduate School.

Hysteria colloquially means ungovernable emotional excess. Generally, modern medical professionals have abandoned using the term "hysteria" to denote a diagnostic category, replacing it with more precisely defined categories, such as somatization disorder. In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association officially changed the diagnosis of "hysterical neurosis, conversion type" to "conversion disorder".

The year 1760 in science and technology involved some significant events.

Feminist archaeology employs a feminist perspective in interpreting past societies. It often focuses on gender, but also considers gender in tandem with other factors, such as sexuality, race, or class. Feminist archaeology has critiqued the uncritical application of modern, Western norms and values to past societies. It is additionally concerned with switching a perceived androcentric bias in the structuring disciplinary norms of archaeology with a gynocentric bias within the profession.

Nancy Julia Chodorow is an American sociologist, feminist psychoanalyst, and professor. Influenced by Freud, Chodorow has written a number of influential books in contemporary feminist writing, including The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender (1978); Feminism and Psychoanalytic Theory (1989); Femininities, Masculinities, Sexualities: Freud and Beyond (1994); and The Power of Feelings: Personal Meaning in Psychoanalysis, Gender, and Culture (1999). In 1995, Chodorow was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship for Social Sciences. In 1996, The Reproduction of Mothering was chosen by Contemporary Sociology as one of the ten most influential books of the past 25 years.

Female hysteria

Female hysteria was once a common medical diagnosis for women, which was described as exhibiting a wide array of symptoms, including anxiety, shortness of breath, fainting, nervousness, sexual desire, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in the abdomen, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, (paradoxically) sexually forward behaviour, and a "tendency to cause trouble for others". It is no longer recognized by medical authorities as a medical disorder. Its diagnosis and treatment were routine for hundreds of years in Western Europe.

Catherine Gallagher is an American historicist literary critic and Victorianist, and is Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. Her books include The Body Economic : Life, Death, and Sensation in Political Economy and the Victorian Novel (2005). She is married to Martin Jay, an Intellectual Historian in the History department at Berkeley. She is a recipient of the 2010/2011 Berlin Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Berlin.

The distinction between sex and gender differentiates a person's biological sex from that person's gender, which can refer to either social roles based on the sex of the person or personal identification of one's own gender based on an internal awareness. In this model, the idea of a "biological gender" is an oxymoron: the biological aspects are not gender-related, and the gender-related aspects are not biological. In some circumstances, an individual's assigned sex and gender do not align, and the person may be transgender. In other cases, an individual may have biological sex characteristics that complicate sex assignment, and the person may be intersex.

Simon Goldhill British classical scholar

Simon David Goldhill, FBA is Professor in Greek Literature and Culture and fellow and Director of Studies in Classics at King's College, Cambridge. He was previously Director of Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge, succeeding Mary Jacobus in October 2011. He is best known for his work on Greek Tragedy.

Among the world's religions, views on masturbation vary widely. Some religions view it as a spiritually detrimental practice, some see it as not spiritually detrimental and others take a situational view. Among these latter religions, some view masturbation as allowable if used as a means towards sexual self-control, or as part of healthy self-exploration, but disallow it if it is done with wrong motives or as an addiction.

Feminist sexology is an offshoot of traditional studies of sexology that focuses on the intersectionality of sex and gender in relation to the sexual lives of women. Sexology has a basis in psychoanalysis, specifically Freudian theory, which played a big role in early sexology. This reactionary field of feminist sexology seeks to be inclusive of experiences of sexuality and break down the problematic ideas that have been expressed by sexology in the past. Feminist sexology shares many principles with the overarching field of sexology; in particular, it does not try to prescribe a certain path or "normality" for women's sexuality, but only observe and note the different and varied ways in which women express their sexuality. It is a young field, but one that is growing rapidly.

Sexual meanings are the meanings that are attributed, by a particular cultural-social-historical context, to sexual acts and broadly to all the aspects of the erotic dimension of human sexual experience. This also include the beliefs on what is considered sexual and what is not. Sexual meanings are social and cultural constructs, and they are metabolized and subjectivized by the individual only after cultural and social mediation.

<i>Representations</i> humanities journal, published by the University of California Press

Representations is an interdisciplinary journal in the humanities published quarterly by the University of California Press. The journal was established in 1983 and is the founding publication of the New Historicism movement of the 1980s. It covers topics including literary, historical, and cultural studies. The founding editorial board was chaired by Stephen Greenblatt and Svetlana Alpers. Representations frequently publishes thematic special issues, for example, the 2007 issue on the legacies of American Orientalism, the 2006 issue on cross-cultural mimesis, and the 2005 issue on political and intellectual redress.

The one-sex and two-sex theories are two models of human anatomy or fetal development discussed in Thomas Laqueur's book Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud. He theorizes that a fundamental change in attitudes toward human sexual anatomy occurred in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Prior to the eighteenth century, it was a common belief that women and men represented two different forms of one essential sex: that is, women were seen to possess the same fundamental reproductive structure as men, the only difference being that female genitalia was inside the body, not outside of it. Anatomists saw the vagina as an interior penis, the labia as foreskin, the uterus as scrotum, and the ovaries as testicles. However, around the 18th century, the dominant view became that of two sexes directly opposite to each other. There was an abundance of literature written in the 18th century supporting the two-sex model. Jacques-Louis Moreau wrote that "not only are the sexes different, but they are different in every conceivable aspect of body and soul, in every physical and moral aspect. To the physician or the naturalist, the relation of woman to man is a series of opposites and contrasts". Women and men began to be seen as polar opposites and each sex was compared in relation to the other. Gender, prior to the eighteenth century, was not prescribed upon individual; a man could be physically male, but he could have a feminine gender identity. This was seen as being normal and acceptable. With the switch to the two-sex model, differences that had been expressed with reference to gender now came to be expressed with reference to sex and to biology.

Oedipus complex concept of psychoanalytic theory; a childs unconscious sexual desire for the opposite-sex parent and hatred for the same-sex parent

The Oedipus complex is a concept of psychoanalytic theory. Sigmund Freud introduced the concept in his Interpretation of Dreams (1899) and coined the expression in his A Special Type of Choice of Object made by Men (1910). The positive Oedipus complex refers to a child's unconscious sexual desire for the opposite-sex parent and hatred for the same-sex parent. The negative Oedipus complex refers to a child's unconscious sexual desire for the same-sex parent and hatred for the opposite-sex parent. Freud considered that the child's identification with the same-sex parent is the successful outcome of the complex and that unsuccessful outcome of the complex might lead to neurosis, pedophilia, and homosexuality.

Penis envy in Freudian psychoanalysis, the female psychosexual developmental stage when young girls experience anxiety upon realizing that they lack a penis; begins the transition from attachment to the mother to competition with the mother for the father

Penis envy is a stage theorized by Sigmund Freud regarding female psychosexual development, in which young girls experience anxiety upon realization that they do not have a penis. Freud considered this realization a defining moment in a series of transitions toward a mature female sexuality and gender identity. In Freudian theory, the penis envy stage begins the transition from an attachment to the mother to competition with the mother for the attention, recognition and affection of the father. The parallel reaction of a boy's realization that women do not have a penis is castration anxiety.

History of masturbation

The history of masturbation describes broad changes in society concerning the ethics, social attitudes, scientific study, and artistic depiction of masturbation over the history of human sexuality.

Laura Gowing is professor of early modern history at King's College London. She received her PhD from Royal Holloway, London.

Joan Cadden is Professor Emerita of medieval history and literature in the History Department of the University of California, Davis. She served as President of the History of Science Society (HSS) from 2006-2007. She has written extensively on gender and sexuality in medieval science and medicine. Her book Meanings of Sex Difference in the Middle Age: Medicine, Science, and Culture (1993) received the Pfizer Prize in 1994, from the History of Science Society, as the outstanding book on the history of science.

The human body has been subject of much debate. How people are defined, and what defined them – be it their anatomy or their energy or both – depends on culture and time. Culture not only defines how sex is perceived but also how gender is defined. Today gender, sex, and identity continue to be of much debate and change based on what place and people are being examined.


  1. 1 2 "Thomas W. Laqueur Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  2. Database (n.d.). "Thomas W. Laqueur". MIT Press. Archived from the original on February 11, 2009. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  3. Laqueur, Thomas (1990). Making Sex: Body and Gender From the Greeks to Freud. Harvard University Press. ISBN   0-674-54349-1. 25-63.
  4. Park, Katharine; Nye, Robert A. (1991). "Destiny Is Anatomy, Review of Laqueurs Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud". The New Republic . 18. S. 53-57.
  5. Green, Monica (2010). "Bodily Essences: Bodies as Categories of Difference" in Linda Kalof, ed., A Cultural History of the Human Body, Vol. 2: In the Medieval Age. New York City: Berg Publishers.
  6. Voss, Heinz-Jürgen (2010): Making Sex Revisited: Dekonstruktion des Geschlechts aus biologisch-medizinischer Perspektive. Transcript, Bielefeld.
  7. King, Helen (2013). The one-sex body on trial: the classical and early modern evidence. London: Ashgate. ISBN   1138247626. OCLC   957681362.