Call For Papers

Deadline for abstracts: 20 August 2004 Deadline for registration: 13 December 2004


Conveners: Dr Lutz Sauerteig (CHMD, University of Durham) Professor Roger Davidson (School of History and Classics, University of Edinburgh) Sponsored by the Wolfson Research Institute, University of Durham, and the Society for the Social History of Medicine

This international conference aims to bring together researchers from a range of fields such as the history of medicine, the history of education and the history of sexuality as well as from sociology, to discuss the cultural history of sex education within a comparative perspective.

Sex education will be treated in the broadest sense to incorporate all aspects of the formal and informal transmission of sexual knowledge and awareness to children and adolescents. It will, therefore, not only address officially-sanctioned and regulated sex education delivered within the school system, but also sex education obtained within the private sphere of the family, and from peer groups and the media.

More specifically, the conference will approach the history of sex education from three different directions:

1. The Social Politics of Sex Education: The archives of the central and local State document the discourses surrounding the provision and regulation of sex education, and there is a range of literature produced by pedagogic discourses on the ‘appropriate’ content and conveyance of sexual knowledge. The social politics of sex education have generated a cluster of key questions as to who should deliver sex education (e.g. doctors, clerics, teachers, parents, peer group), as to where sex education should take place, as to how much anatomical and biological detail of reproduction should be conveyed, and as to what kind of sexual ethics should be taught? Many of these issues circle around the classic dichotomy between public and private; between the rights of parents to educate their children themselves and the public task of the State to preserve and control the health of its citizenry.

2. The Content of Sex Education: The different forms of textual and illustrative material employed for sex education allows for a broad range of questions to be asked on the making of the sexed body and gender. Sex education materials provide an historical record of how heterosexual activities were constructed and of the degree to which concepts of the body and sexuality, transmitted to the young, were gendered. Accordingly, a number of papers will focus on the content of the various forms of sexual ‘enlightenment’.

3. Experiencing Sex Education: By exploiting the evidence from sources such as sex surveys, questionnaires, and oral history, we would also seek to scrutinise what children and adolescents knew about sexuality and the sexed body, from where they got their knowledge, and how they perceived and experienced the different agencies and ‘knowledges’ involved in sex education.

It is the intention of the conveners to publish a selection of the contributions in an edited volume, in accordance with the usual criteria of editorial balance and refereeing.

Papers for the conference should not exceed 8,000 words, including notes, and need to be submitted electronically for pre-circulation to conference participants by 14th March 2005.

We now invite abstracts not exceeding 500 words by 20th August 2004. The abstracts should identify the theme, give a (provisional) title and should give a clear indication of the questions to be addressed in the paper, the sources on which it will be based, and the type of findings it will advance. Abstracts should also include name, affiliation, email and postal addresses, and telephone number.

Decisions regarding acceptance will be communicated later in August. Further details of the conference will be available on the website at in due course.

Please send your abstracts, preferably by e-mail, by 20 August 2004 to the following address: Dr Lutz Sauerteig email: [email protected] University of Durham, Queen’s Campus Wolfson Research Institute Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease University Boulevard Stockton-on-Tees TS17 6BH United Kingdom