The Sexuality of History: Modernity
and the Sapphic, 1565-1830
by Susan S. Lanser
University of Chicago Press
344 pages, $95. (paperback $32.50)
THE AUTHOR of this book defends a daring hypothesis. Her argument, which is supported by considerable research, is that “sapphic” relationships between women, both real and imagined, belong not at the margins but at the center of Western cultural history.
In the first chapter of The Sexuality of History—a play on Michel Foucault’s famous title, The History of Sexuality—Susan S. Lanser argues that the basic trappings of modern Western civilization, everything from eating with forks to the “rights of man,” first appeared in the 1600s and have been developing since then. She goes on to identify a major factor in these developments:
Jean Roberta is a widely published writer based in Regina, Saskatchewan.