How to do the History of Sex

26 May 2017, 9.30am – 5.30pm
Edinburgh College of Art

‘How to do the History of Sex’ is a free one-day interdisciplinary workshop open to all. The event’s main objective is to share methodological approaches to the study of sex between scholars working in varied disciplines, including sexology, medicine, law, cultural history, performance studies, art and design. This will be done through keynote presentations, short talks, and hands-on break-out sessions involving exploring archival materials. The aim of the workshop is for all participants to gain a wider understanding of the complexities of exploring the history of sexual behaviours and practices, and an enhanced interdisciplinary knowledge of ways to approach the subject area.

Whilst sexual behaviours and practices have served as a topic of academic study for a considerable amount of time, recent years have seen the publication of a number of high-profile theoretical texts on the topic. These include ‘Sex, or the Unbearable’ (Berlant and Edelman, 2013), ‘After Sex’ (edited by Halley and Parker, 2011) ‘Unlimited Intimacy’ (Dean, 2009) and ‘Celibacies’ (Kahan, 2013). While all outstanding contributions to the study of sexuality and sexual practices, these books rarely investigate historical materials in depth. The question that this workshop asks is: how is it possible to recover and theoretically scrutinise something as ephemeral as past instances of sexual behaviour?

We are excited to welcome Professor Maria Pramaggiore (Maynooth University, Ireland) and Lazlo Pearlman (Northumbria University) as our keynote speakers.

Other speakers for the event will include: Professor Sharon Cowan (Law, University of Edinburgh); Dr Laura Guy (School of Design, ECA, University of Edinburgh); Dr Agnieszka Koscianska (University of Warsaw); and Dr Ingrid Young (Health Sciences and Informatics, University of Edinburgh).

Places on the workshop will be strictly limited to 50. Participants will need to attend the whole day, in order to contribute fully to the event.

Access: The Hunter Lecture Theatre is wheelchair accessible, and has level access from College Court Yard. Please click here for detailed information regarding wheelchair access and a map to the venue. If you have any additional access requirements, or would like to contact us regarding the event, please email

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