Book ID: CBB001510056

The Ploy of Instinct: Victorian Sciences of Nature and Sexuality in Liberal Governance (2014)


Frederickson, Kathleen (Author)

Fordham University Press

Publication Date: 2014
Physical Details: xi + 220 pp.; bibl.; index
Language: English

It is paradoxical that instinct became a central term for late Victorian sexual sciences as they were elaborated in the medicalized spaces of confession and introspection, given that instinct had long been defined in its opposition to self-conscious thought. The Ploy of Instinct ties this paradox to instinct’s deployment in conceptualizing governmentality. Instinct’s domain, Frederickson argues, extended well beyond the women, workers, and “savages” to whom it was so often ascribed. The concept of instinct helped to gloss over contradictions in British liberal ideology made palpable as turn-of-the-century writers grappled with the legacy of Enlightenment humanism. For elite European men, instinct became both an agent of “progress” and a force that, in contrast to desire, offered a plenitude in answer to the alienation of self-consciousness. This shift in instinct’s appeal to privileged European men modified the governmentality of empire, labor, and gender. The book traces these changes through parliamentary papers, pornographic fiction, accounts of Aboriginal Australians, suffragette memoirs, and scientific texts in evolutionary theory, sexology, and early psychoanalysis.

Reviewed By

Review Claire Furlong (2016) Review of "The Ploy of Instinct: Victorian Sciences of Nature and Sexuality in Liberal Governance". Social History of Medicine (pp. 182-183). unapi

Review Jana Funke (2016) Review of "The Ploy of Instinct: Victorian Sciences of Nature and Sexuality in Liberal Governance". Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 647-648). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Casini, Paolo
Israel, Jonathan Irvine
Baker, Christopher Paul
Mayhew, Robert
Lafuente, Antonio
López-Ocón, Leoncio
Journal of the History of Sexuality
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
History of Psychiatry
Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura
Oxford University Press
Greenwood Press
St. Martin's Press
University of Chicago Press
Science and politics
Science and society
Science and culture
Spinoza, Baruch
Fabre, Jean Henri
Perrier, Edmond
Giard, Alfred
Time Periods
18th century
19th century
17th century
20th century, early
Great Britain
Latin America

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