My Website

Friday, 10 January 2014

You say that like it's a bad thing...

Looking at this post, on the new History of Sexuality Seminar at the Institute of Historical research, inaugurated this week at an almost impossibly overcrowded roundtable session, with people sitting on the floor and outside the door, I wonder whether the question posited is so either/or.

Possibly incoherence indicates a state of invigoration, rather than a One True Way accepted orthodoxy? Might it not be a sign of the health of the field that it is hard to get one's head around, that people are looking at different things and taking different methodological approaches and some are doing micro-studies and others are doing Big History?

Is it not a reflection of the fact that the topic under consideration - and given the debates over questions of definition, and what we call it, and the sex/sexuality distinction - is itself large and contains multitudes and contradictions? Coherence is too often an artefact of perspective.

I am all for people being aware that there is other work going on and that the issues are often intricately related in ways that may not be apparent on the surface, and that occasionally long-term continuities are overlooked in favour of what may look like change, but I don't think any one person or any one group owns the history of sex/sexuality and all its ramifications.

Some while ago there was an H-Net list on Psychohistory: unfortunately at the time (and I may be wrong about this) my perception was that it was being run by a small 'inner circle' of people who considered themselves the custodians of the Only Right Approach to Psychohistory and were quite heavyhanded about this. The list is now defunct.

I don't think it is entirely down to me setting up the first embryonic Histsex list in the late 1990s on a free listserv provider, and having a 'let 100 flowers bloom' approach to what its remit was, that H-Histsex still flourishes a decade after the move to H-Net, even if we seldom have the dingdongs heated discussions vibrant debates that I remember from those early days. I think it is probably far more to do with the wide-ranging and diverse nature of the subject.

No comments:

Post a Comment