Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2014

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 09/04/2021

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Heineman, Elizabeth

Second Advisor

Penny, H Glenn

First Committee Member

Schoen, Johanna

Second Committee Member

Dominguez, Virginia

Third Committee Member

Sessions, Jennifer


My dissertation explains how the scientific study of sexuality became laden with emotions and the unforeseen results of this process. It begins with a scholarly tradition, forged during the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, which privileged sentimental articulations of feelings. This tradition helped inspire the late nineteenth-century foundation of sexology, or sexual science.

Sexologists, as their discipline developed alongside the modern rational bureaucratic nation-state, maintained attention to emotive expressions. Sexologists also helped shape the interpretation and enforcement of laws against same-sex acts. While they built authority, however, sexologists lacked consensus. During the first third of the twentieth century, sexologists helped compile defendants' detailed sexual histories, replete with affective articulations of sexual desires, which led to calamitous consequences under National Socialism.

Nazi technocrats utilized these same sexual histories, offered by same-sex attracted persons describing their feelings and actions before 1933, to prosecute them after a 1935 legal revision, which expanded the law's reach from specific acts to general expressions of feelings. My dissertation provides a genealogy of sexual research and the unexpected uses of its findings. It also revises the biography of sexology as an interdisciplinary field, braided with a history of emotions, tracing its previously underappreciated origins, tumultuous apex, and contested legacy.


emotions, Goethe, Hirschfeld, National Socialism, sexology, sexuality


viii, 320 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 281-320).


Copyright © 2014 Matthew B. Conn

Available for download on Saturday, September 04, 2021

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