Scientia Sexualis and Historiography of Sexuality – Call for Papers


Scientia Sexualis and Historiography of Sexuality

Transversal: International Journal for the Historiography of Science will receive proposals for articles that seek to reflect on Scientia Sexualis for the issue of June 2024.

Sexual science began at the end of the 19th century with the ambitious undertaking of physicians such as Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Havelock Ellis and Magnus Hirschfeld, who set out to analyse the laws of the nature of sex. Based on the prestige of biological science, the thinking of these scientists is founded on the idea that there is a “sexual instinct” that influences the diversity of individual experiences. According to this rationality, this complex “sexual instinct” is considered a natural process, the understanding of which will provide a more enlightened view of the main challenges faced in the contemporary world. Relying on biological and psychological factors, sexologists have created a vast taxonomy of sexual behaviours and practices, emphasising their deviations, perversions and pathologies. Their theses proved influential not only in the medical field but also in the legal world. In the wake of these works, but also as opposition to them, Sigmund Freud contributed to a broadening of the understanding of sexuality as a founding element of human subjectivity while at the same time revolutionising the techniques for treating diseases linked to “sexual pathologies”. In Freud, Scientia Sexualis is investigated within medical but also philosophical rationality.

After these famous works of sexology and psychoanalysis, sexuality was consolidated as a distinctive field of knowledge. Over the twentieth century, this new science ceased to be the exclusive object of medical rationality and became attractive to numerous fields of knowledge. The anthropological studies of Margaret Mead, the theories of gender and sexuality of Robert Stoller and John Money, the quantitative work of Alfred Kinsey and Shere Hite, and more recently, the radical critique of feminist epistemology on sex and gender, among many other references, show that sexuality is at the heart of academic research in the most diverse, contested and acclaimed approaches.

Until the 1970s, historiographical production on sexuality was timid, but from 1980 onwards, the increase in production was vertiginous. Michel Foucault’s thesis in The History of Sexuality contributed significantly to the awakening of historians’ interests. According to the French philosopher, sexuality is a device, a mechanism of regulation and governance of bodies, which operates in contemporary disciplinary society. The change in the key to understanding proposed by Foucault draws the attention of historians who begin to take an interest in the dynamics of force and power that constitute this device. In parallel to Foucault’s thesis, there are also several factors contributing to the growing interest in Scientia Sexualis: the rise of sexuality studies after the HIV epidemic, the spread of feminist studies, the development of gay and lesbian studies and gender studies, and not least the strength of social movements for sexual minority rights. All this has contributed to the fact that the history of sexuality has now reached the mainstream of contemporary historiography.

Our particular interest in this issue is not only to emphasise the historical aspects of the formation of Scientia Sexualis, its construction and deconstructions, contributions and criticisms, which have marked the history of this science from its birth in the 19th century to the present day but also reassess its historiography.

We welcome submissions that explore the following thematic axes:

  • History of sexual science in its various areas of knowledge and its social and epistemological aspects;
  • History of the historiography of sexuality;
  • Empirical research that contributes to the analysis of sexual science and its impact on society;
  • The relationship between the history of sexual science and the history of techniques for transforming the body, sex and gender, as well as techniques and technologies for human reproduction and contraception;
  • Intersection of sexual science to the history of moralities.

 Submission details:

Submissions must be received by February 10, 2024, via the journal webpage so they can be considered for the June 2024 issue.

Submissions must be prepared for double-anonymised review. Notification of acceptance will be sent on April 10, 2024.

For any further information concerning this Call for Papers, please contact:

Marina S. Duarte – Federal University of Minas Gerais – UFMG



For any further information concerning this Journal, please contact:

Mauro L. Condé – Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais – UFMG


Marlon J. Salomon – Universidade Federal de Goiás – UFG