Publication Date: 06/02/2020 ISBN: 9781783528059 Category:

A Curious History of Sex

Kate Lister

Publisher: Unbound
Publication Date: 06/02/2020 ISBN: 9781783528059 Category:




This is not a comprehensive study of every sexual quirk, kink and ritual across all cultures throughout time, as that would entail writing an encyclopaedia. Rather, this is a drop in the ocean, a paddle in the shallow end of sex history, but I hope you will get pleasantly wet nonetheless.

The act of sex has not changed since people first worked out what went where, but the ways in which society dictates how sex is culturally understood and performed have varied significantly through the ages. Humans are the only creatures that stigmatise particular sexual practices, and sex remains a deeply divisive issue around the world. Attitudes will change and grow – hopefully for the better – but sex will never be free of stigma or shame unless we acknowledge where it has come from.

Based on the popular research project Whores of Yore, and written with her distinctive humour and wit, A Curious History of Sex draws upon Dr Kate Lister’s extensive knowledge of sex history. From medieval impotence tests to twentieth-century testicle thefts, from the erotic frescoes of Pompeii, to modern-day sex doll brothels, Kate unashamedly roots around in the pants of history, debunking myths, challenging stereotypes and generally getting her hands dirty.

This fascinating book is peppered with surprising and informative historical slang, and illustrated with eye-opening, toe-curling and meticulously sourced images from the past.

You will laugh, you will wince and you will wonder just how much has actually changed.

Publisher Review

'Buckle your trousers, fasten your seatbelts, here comes Kate Lister. Her curious history of sex is a wild ride, made all the more enjoyable by a wonderfully irreverent approach. If she ever tires of being an academic historian she might try stand-up comedy. I've never had so much fun learning stuff' The Times 'Had Victoria Wood decided to write a scholarly book about sex, it would be like this. Lister has a saucy wit . . . I laughed out loud.' Daily Mail 'Lister romps her way through masturbation, menstruation and prostitution, the invention of condoms, the use of vibrators to cure hysteria and much more . . . Glorious.' Evening Standard 'An anecdote-rich chronicle that uncovers layer on layer of oppression . . . vivid and playful' Guardian 'An eye opener. Thoughtful but fun, scholarly but spritely . . . and a bit rude!' Sir Tony Robinson 'A generous, thoughtful, uncensored history of sex. From virginity tests to vegetable dildos, onanism to orgasm, menstruation to male sex work, this fascinating book encourages us to take a long hard look at how history has shaped understandings of sex as we know it today, and how sex might best be guided into the future' Annie Sprinkle, pleasure activist and author of The Explorer's Guide to Planet Orgasm 'A wonderfully entertaining read. Worth going along for the ride! Kate Lister's Curious History of Sex is great fun and brilliantly illustrated. Lister wears her learning lightly, and is ready to laugh and occasionally gasp with horror along with her readers at some of the strange facts she unearths. Lister's erudition never distances the reader and her tolerance and understanding means you never feel preached at. A fantastic guide to the strange history of human sexuality in all its forms and also very, very, funny!' Catharine Arnold, author of City of Sin: London and its Vices 'Simply brilliant. Exploding with facts and anecdotes, and always presented with warmth by a historian who clearly loves her subject' Lucy-Anne Holmes, author of Don't Hold My Head Down 'A Curious History of Sex will leave the mildly curious satiated; lovers of history salivating; sexually advanced folks satisfied and wanting a second round! What a pleasure to devour - and required reading for anyone interested in the wild history of sexuality' Liz Goldwyn, founder of The Sex Ed

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