Synopses & Reviews
Against the late nineteenth-century European trend of theoretical elaborations of negative homosexual stereotypes and the legal persecution of homosexuals, German sexologist, Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) introduced a scientific and humanistic approach to homosexual emancipation. Radical from the outset, his pioneering theorizations of gender overturned the dual sex system and revealed the artificiality of gender. Beyond destabilizing traditional concepts of masculinity and femininity and substantiating the naturalness of such phenomena as homosexual, intersexed, and transgendered identities, Hirschfeld deployed his theories to serve as the basis of a steadfast and influential campaign for the decriminalization of homosexuality and an international sexual freedom movement that championed the principal causes of the womens movement and the rights of all sexual minorities. Integrating the predominant cultural, scientific, and political discourses during Hirschfelds lifetime, Elena Mancini illuminates his cosmopolitan and classical liberal political and cultural stance, showing him as more than a homosexual theorist and activist. This fascinating study shows how his opposition to fascism and to all forms of sexual and racial hierarchies makes him a humanist for our times and an inspiration for those who strive for social and political inclusion and tolerance.
“Physician, sexologist, homosexual activist, German, Jew, and what he called, a ‘world citizen, Magnus Hirschfeld was a fascinating and complex character, one who has earned an exalted place among crusaders for tolerance and human freedom. A champion of the decriminalization of homosexuality, promoter of sexual freedom, and supporter of the womens movement, Hirschfeld rejected the dual sex system as well as prevailing popular and scientific notions of homosexuality as a pathological expression of deviance. Examining Hirschfeld the scientist, political activist, and cultural critic, Mancini is to be congratulated for her thorough, engaged, and engaging study of one of twentieth-century Europes great humanists.”—John M. Efron, Koret Professor of Jewish History, University of California-Berkeley
“Readable and useful, this new intellectual biography of the German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld adds greatly to our understanding of the cultural politics of sex in Germany from the turn of the century to the collapse of the Weimar Republic.”—Sander L. Gilman, Director, Program in Psychoanalysis, Health Sciences Humanities; Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Professor of Psychiatry, Emory University
About the Author
Elena Mancini received her Ph.D. in German Studies from Rutgers University. She has taught at Hunter College, Montclair University, and Rutgers, and is the Culture Editor for Logos: A Journal of Modern Society and Culture.
Table of Contents
PART I: EARLY YEARS AND CULTURAL CONTEXT * Hirschfelds University Years, Early Travels and Encounters with the Literary World * Urban Culture and Homosexuality * Jewish Identity and Medicine * PART II: EVOLUTION OF HIRSCHFELDS SCIENTIFIC OUTLOOK * Research Methods and Philosophy * Hirschfeld and the Importance of Sexology * The Third Sex Theory and its Cultural and Scientific Reception * Sexual Intermediacy and Transvestitism * Hirschfeld and Psychoanalysis * Hirschfeld and Degeneracy * Hirschfeld as a Clinician * PART III: POLITICS, ACTIVISM, AND WAR * Hirschfeld, the Social Democrats and Wilhelmine Sexual Politics * Homosexuality and the Politics of Effeminacy in Wilhelmine Germany: The “Liebenberg” Affair * Misogyny and the Anti-feminist Substrate of Homophobia * Hirschfeld and the Womens Movement * Hirschfeld and WWI * The Weimar Years * The Ernst Röhm Affair * PART IV: PANHUMANISTIC COSMOPOLITANISM, EXILE AND FINAL YEARS * World Voyage and Sexual Ethnography * Jewish Identity and Race Discourse * Exile and Final Years * Epilogue