How to Do the History of Homosexuality
Dealing both with male homosexuality and with lesbianism, this study imparts to the history of sexuality a renewed sense of adventure and daring. It recovers the radical design of Michel Foucault's epochal work, salvaging Foucault's insights from common misapprehensions and making them newly available to historians, so that they can once again provide a powerful impetus for innovation in the field. Far from having exhausted Foucault's revolutionary ideas, Halperin maintains that we have yet to come to terms with their startling implications. Exploring the broader significance of historicizing desire, Halperin questions the tendency among scholars to reduce the history of sexuality to a mere history of sexual classifications instead of a history of human subjectivity itself. Finally, in a theoretical tour de force, Halperin offers an altogether new strategy for approaching the history of homosexuality—one that can accommodate both ruptures and continuities, both identity and difference in sexual experiences across time and space.
Impassioned but judicious, controversial but deeply informed, How to Do the History of Homosexuality is a book rich in suggestive propositions as well as eye-opening details. It will prove to be essential reading for anyone interested in the history of sexuality.
Introduction: In Defense of Historicism
1. Forgetting Foucault
2. The First Homosexuality?
3. Historicizing the Subject of Desire
4. How to Do the History of Male Homosexuality
Appendix: Questions of Evidence