Illustrating phallic worship: uses of material objects and the production of sexual knowledge in eighteenth-century antiquarianism and early twentieth-century sexual science
Word and Image
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
© 2017 Jana Funke, Kate Fisher, Jen Grove, and Rebecca Langlands. Published with license by Taylor & Francis. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
This article reveals previously overlooked connections between eighteenth-century antiquarianism and early twentieth-century sexual science by presenting a comparative reading of two illustrated books: An Account of the Remains of the Worship of Priapus, by British antiquarian scholar Richard Payne Knight (1750–1824), and Die Weltreise eines Sexualforschers (The World Journey of a Sexologist), by German sexual scientist Magnus Hirschfeld (1868–1935). A close analysis of these publications demonstrates the special status of material artefacts and the strategic engagement with visual evidence in antiquarian and scientific writings about sex. Through its exploration of the similarities between antiquarian and sexual scientific thought, the article demonstrates the centrality of material culture to the production of sexual knowledge in the Western world. It also opens up new perspectives on Western intellectual history and on the intellectual origins of sexual science. While previous scholarship has traced the beginnings of sexual science back to nineteenth-century medical disciplines, this article shows that sexual scientists drew upon different forms of evidence and varied methodologies to produce sexual knowledge and secure scientific authority. As such, sexual science needs to be understood as a field with diverse intellectual roots that can be traced back (at least) to the eighteenth century.
All authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Wellcome Trust [grant numbers NC110388, 106654/Z/14/Z and 106653/Z/14/Z].
This is the final version of the article. Available from Taylor & Francis via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 33 (3), pp. 324 - 337