A Queer History of Sexual Violence


ACLS Fellowship Program


American Studies


"Rape is about power," Susan Brownmiller argued in 1975, "not sex." This oft-repeated idea abjects violence from the realm of sexuality, insisting on an understanding of modern sex that is distinct from power, and a vision of rape distinct from sex. “A Queer History of Sexual Violence” takes this twentieth-century feminist political distinction between sexual violence and sex itself as a point of departure to consider the relationship of sexual violence to the history of sexuality in the United States between the late eighteenth and the late twentieth centuries. This project asks how the understanding of the history of sexuality in America might change if one centers the experience of sexual violence or coercion instead of modern paradigms of pleasure, consent, and voluntary participation.