Posts tagged sex

Havelock Ellis and the Literary Imagination

Written by on Tuesday, posted in Event (No comments yet)
Tagged as ,

Wednesday 26th October, 1.15pm – 2.30pm
University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street building, room 359

Anna Katharina Schaffner (University of Kent)
‘Havelock Ellis and the Literary Imagination: On Sexology and Fiction’

Many important nineteenth- and early twentieth-century pioneers of the scientific study of sex make extensive use of literary sources in their works. Not only do they adopt terms and concepts from fictional sources, but literary representations and their authors frequently serve as case studies which are deemed as valid as empirical observations. Surprisingly, this blending of discourses, which has substantially shaped the nosologies of the early sexologists, has received little critical attention. This paper analyzes the epistemological status and functions that are assigned to fictional representations in the works of the British sexologist Havelock Ellis, as well as the wider theoretical ramifications of factualizing fictions. The way in which literary sources are used in Ellis’ and other sexological texts not only sheds light on the production of sexual knowledge and processes of discourse formation, but also brings to the fore the enmeshment of fantasy, language and desire, as well as the dependence of an entire scientific discipline upon narratives – both fictional and factual in nature.