History of Sexuality Blog Seeks Assistant Editors

NOTCHES is seeking two graduate student Assistant Editors.

NOTCHES is a peer-reviewed, collaborative and international history of sexuality blog that aims to get people inside and outside the academy thinking about sexuality in the past and in the present. We encourage a global focus, not only in terms of the content of posts and location of contributors, but also in the conferences and special events in the history of sexuality that we cover.


As an Assistant Editor, you will have the opportunity to gain experience in digital and public history, develop your professional network, and introduce your own research to a broader audience through a successful international blog.

Assistant Editors will help with a range of tasks including:

  • Soliciting new contributions
  • Liaising with contributors
  • Researching images and acquisition
  • Managing our social media presence
  • Compiling book lists and ordering book copies for our Author Interviews feature
  • Assisting in the upkeep of the blog
  • Copyediting submissions
  • Collaborating with our editorial board

Applicants should be advanced graduate students specializing in the history of sexuality. We are particularly interested in candidates with strong communication and organizational skills. An interest in digital humanities and public history is a plus. We are looking for someone who can contribute a maximum of 5 hours of work per week. A minimum commitment of one year is required. This position, like all editorial roles at NOTCHES, is unpaid. Assistant Editors may work from anywhere.

To apply, please send a 1-page cover letter, 1 page CV, and a list of 2 references to Managing Editors at notchesblog@gmail.com by September 15, 2016. Inquiries are most welcome.

Understanding Zika and the Abortion Debate in Brazil: A View from 1940

Cari Maes

To date, Brazil has registered over 500 cases of Zika-related microcephaly and another 4,000 cases have yet to be confirmed. With the country set to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, what was a domestic public health crisis has attracted international concern and media attention. In particular, Zika has revived longstanding reproductive rights debates in Brazil and Latin America, a region where women face some of world’s most restrictive abortion laws.  At one end of the discursive spectrum lie Brazilian and international health experts advising women to delay conception until the epidemic subsides. On the opposite end, reproductive rights stakeholders at home and abroad, including the World Health Organization and, perhaps more strikingly, the Pope, have recommended relaxing restrictive abortion laws and increasing access to contraception in Zika-affected countries.


DNCr Maternity Monument, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2010. (Photo by Cari Maes)

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Naming and Shaming Women: Reporting on VD Trials During the First World War

Laura Lammasniemi 

In 1918, the final year of the First World War, over 100 women were convicted for infecting a member of His Majesty’s (HM) armed forces with venereal disease (VD) in England under the controversial Regulation 40D of the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA). Young Lucy Adams from Wakefield was one such woman. She was arrested following a brief affair with an unnamed soldier, and faced a public trial. During the trial, she would have heard the details of her disease retold by the medical practitioners to an all-male court room before being sentenced by the magistrate to a six-month imprisonment, with hard labour. Adams, who was married at the time, protested, claiming that she did not know that she was suffering from the disease. As reported by the Wakefield Express on 7 September 1918, the magistrate told her in his sentencing remarks that when her term was up, he hoped that she would become a proper citizen – highlighting her failure not only as a wife, but also as a citizen.

soldier prostitute Army Education Commission, Social Hygiene Division circa 1916-1919 Box 177, Folder 1 Title Steady, buddy, there's a come-back Contributors U.S. Army Educational Commission Date 1918 Extent 8" x 10" Physical Form Poster Type of Resource Still Image Subject Health education World War, 1914-1918. United States. Posters Sexually transmitted diseases Military education Prostitution Language eng Physical location University of Minnesota Libraries, Social Welfare History Archives. http://special.lib.umn.edu/swha/ Local identifier swhp0187 purl http://purl.umn.edu/62388 Access conditions Use of this image may be governed by U.S. and international copyright laws. Please contact the Social Welfare History Archives for permission to publish this image. http://special.lib.umn.edu/swha/

U.S. Anti-VD Poster from World War 1, 1918 (VD Visual History Archive)

The First World War is often viewed as a catalyst for women’s rights as women gained better access to the labour market and the right to vote shortly after. Simultaneously, the fear of prostitution and female promiscuity peaked during the war. As a response, the War Office attempted to control women’s lives in a number of ways under DORA, such as restricting drinking, imposing curfews in some areas, and banning women suspected of prostitution from the vicinity of military bases. This post offers some reflection on the trials of women accused of infecting soldiers with VD and on their reporting in the press, as scholars rarely acknowledge or discuss these marginalised women in relation to the First World War.

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Bad Girls: A Student Interview with Amanda Littauer

Interview by Deborah Deacon, Christina Fabiani, Kaitlin Findlay, Adam Kostrich, and Kate Van Genderen.

Edited by Rachel Hope Cleves

Maybe it’s the come-hither look of the female subject on its pulp-inspired cover that leads Amanda Littauer’s Bad Girls: Young Women, Sex, and Rebellion before the Sixties (UNC, 2015) to fly off the shelves. More likely, the intriguing research, lucid prose, and well-crafted argument explain the book’s popularity. I assigned Bad Girls to students enrolled in my spring 2016 graduate seminar, “The History of Gender, Sexuality, and the Body,” because the book prompts us to rethink what we think we know about all three categories in the course title. Students of the history of sexuality typically come to class already steeped in the popular memory of the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s. Bad Girls shakes up this familiar narrative by detailing how young women and girls in the 1940s and 1950s pursued new sexual freedoms, often at a high cost, causing social upheavals. Long before the emergence of a counter-culture, ordinary girls and women challenged the conservative codes of sexual morality that dominated American society and discourse. Their insistence on their right to pursue sexual pleasure has been, until now, an untold story in the history of America’s long sexual revolution.

Bad Girls

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Syphilis Onstage: Eugène Brieux’s Damaged Goods

Alicia Corts

In 1913, the New York theatre world was electrified with the presentation of Eugène Brieux’s play, Damaged Goods. While Henrik Ibsen’s play, Ghosts, had referenced sexually transmitted disease, Brieux’s plot featured a main character wrestling with the physical and social ramifications of syphilis after an ill-chosen affair. As with so many of his works, Brieux intended the characters in Damaged Goods to point out social injustice — in this case, the way syphilis could be spread to innocent spouses and children — but the only heroes in the story remain solely the men who also pose the greatest threat. The syphilis bacteria isn’t the real pathogen in the story. Instead, the real threat stems from how the male characters use their intelligence, rendering the women helpless carriers of the disease. The play and the publicity surrounding the piece cast women to the sidelines, but the actual history of the production places women in far more active roles.

Film Poster from the 1914 silent film. American Film Manufacturing Company. Public Domain.

Film Poster from the 1914 silent film, Damaged Goods. (American Film Manufacturing Company)

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