Criminal Intimacy: Prison and the Uneven History of Modern American Sexuality

Paperback | May 30, 2010

byRegina Kunzel

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Sex is usually assumed to be a closely guarded secret of prison life. But it has long been the subject of intense scrutiny by both prison administrators and reformers—as well as a source of fascination and anxiety for the American public. Historically, sex behind bars has evoked radically different responses from professionals and the public alike. In Criminal Intimacy, Regina Kunzel tracks these varying interpretations and reveals their foundational influence on modern thinking about sexuality and identity.
 
Historians have held the fusion of sexual desire and identity to be the defining marker of sexual modernity, but sex behind bars, often involving otherwise heterosexual prisoners, calls those assumptions into question. By exploring the sexual lives of prisoners and the sexual culture of prisons over the past two centuries—along with the impact of a range of issues, including race, class, and gender; sexual violence; prisoners’ rights activism; and the HIV epidemic—Kunzel discovers a world whose surprising plurality and mutability reveals the fissures and fault lines beneath modern sexuality itself.
 
Drawing on a wide range of sources, including physicians, psychiatrists, sociologists, correctional administrators, journalists, and prisoners themselves—as well as depictions of prison life in popular culture—Kunzel argues for the importance of the prison to the history of sexuality and for the centrality of ideas about sex and sexuality to the modern prison. In the process, she deepens and complicates our understanding of sexuality in America.

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Sex is usually assumed to be a closely guarded secret of prison life. But it has long been the subject of intense scrutiny by both prison administrators and reformers—as well as a source of fascination and anxiety for the American public. Historically, sex behind bars has evoked radically different responses from professionals and the ...

Regina Kunzel is professor of history, professor of gender, women, and sexuality studies, and the Paul R. Frenzel Land Grant Chair in Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of Fallen Women, Problem Girls: Unmarried Mothers and the Professionalization of Social Work, 1890–1945.

other books by Regina Kunzel

Format:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:May 30, 2010Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226462277

ISBN - 13:9780226462271

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
 
1     “An Architecture Adapted to Morals”   
 
2    “Every Prison Has Its Perverts”
 
3    The Problem of Prison Sex in Mid-Twentieth-Century America
 
4    “The Deviants Are the Heterosexuals”
 
5    Race, Rape, and the Violent Prison
 
6    “Lessons in Being Gay”
 
Epilogue
Notes
Bibliography  
Index

Editorial Reviews

"[Kunzel] succeeds magnificently in tracing the shifting multiple understandings of sex in prison, with all its complex gender, class, and racial dynamics. . . . This is an important contemporary story. If we thought for a moment that sex in prison was something that happened far away to other people, Kunzel makes us think again."