Lesbianism Transfigured

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Following is the introduction to the forthcoming book, Sex Variant Woman: The Life of Jeannette Howard Foster (Da Capo Press). Reprinted with permission.

IN THE EARLY 1950’s, Alfred Kinsey’s Institute for Sex Research received an enormous donation of anonymous erotic manuscripts. Working on the campus of Indiana University, Kinsey’s librarian Jeannette Howard Foster sorted them into piles on two long library tables in the basement of Wylie Hall. Since such works could not be organized by author, she decided to catalog them by subject matter—were they heterosexual or homosexual? Was the theme sadistic or was it about a particular type of fetish? Fortunately for her, these anonymous authors got down to business in the first page or two.

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