CFP: Special Issue on Sexpertise: Sexual Knowledge and the Public in the 19th and 20th Centuries

We seek proposals for contributions to a special issue of a leading history of medicine journal on the modern history of “sexperts” and “sexpertise”.

With these guiding categories in mind, contributions will seek to explore the circulation and transmission of sexual knowledge and ideas between experts and publics in the 19th and 20th centuries, or else to question this distinction altogether.

Possible themes for consideration therefore include (but are by no means limited to) the following:

  • Forms of “popular” sexual expertise and knowledge, such as sex manuals, marriage guides, family planning and sexual health instruction, and advice columns in newspapers and magazines
  • “Alternative” forms of sexual expertise/knowledge and the creation of sexual counterpublics, as well as the partial admission of alternative forms of sexual knowledge into the cultural “mainstream” (e.g. those developed by the feminist and women’s health movements, new religious movements, countercultures, identity- and community-based movements, etc) or, conversely, the cultural marginalisation of the previously “mainstream”.
  • Professional or medical expertise/knowledge and its relationship with the broader public
  • Sexual experience and subjectivity as sexual expertise/knowledge (e.g. the expertise of friends and family, or expertise through self-reflexivity/growth/examination)
  • The “history of sexuality” as itself a form of sexual knowledge/expertise aiming to shape public understandings of sex, sexuality and the sexual past

Whilst proposals on any relevant topic by scholars at any career stage are welcome, those that propose histories of sexpertise beyond Britain are particularly encouraged. We also especially encourage submissions by scholars of colour.

If you are interested in participating in this special issue, please send an article abstract of no more than 500 words to the email addresses below by 4 January 2019, along with a short bio. If you would like to discuss your ideas prior to submission, or if you have any questions, please also get in touch.

Selected abstracts will form part of a submission package to the journal: whilst the journal has expressed an interested in a special issue on this topic, it is unable to confirm acceptance until this package has been reviewed. If the special issue is confirmed, we then expect a submission date for articles of late November 2019. All articles will be subject to internal review by the special issue co-editors, and after this the formal review process of the journal.

Articles should be no more than 12,000 words including footnotes.

Dr Hannah Charnock, University of Bristol (
Dr Sarah L. Jones, University of Exeter (
Dr Ben Mechen, Royal Holloway, University of London (