Article ID: CBB686896153

“Advanced Marriage Technique”: Sex as a Perfectible Skill in Mid-twentieth-century American Marriage Manuals (2021)


While earlier marital advice literature treated sexual intercourse as a matter of conditioned instinct, marriage manuals in the mid-twentieth century portrayed it as a skill, and one that was rarely cultivated adequately. The didactic, quantified, objectively examined and rule-bound approach to sex promulgated by these manuals parallels other ways in which Americans subjected their personal and intimate lives to the tutelage of experts. Anxieties about the stability of marriage and family life were both heightened and salved by the authoritative tone of scientific authority used in these books.

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Authors & Contributors
Birnbaum, Norman
Gathorne-Hardy, Jonathan
Rose, Anne C.
MacLeod, Roy M.
Reumann, Miriam G.
Drucker, Donna J.
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation
Minerva: A Review of Science, Learning and Policy
Journal of the History of Sexuality
Journal of the History of Biology
Social History of Medicine
Rutgers University Press
Oxford University Press
Indiana University Press
University of California Press
Cornell University Press
Johns Hopkins University
Social sciences
Medicine and society
Sexual behavior
Kinsey, Alfred C.
Gregg, Alan
Marshall, John
Willits, Joseph Henry
Beach, Frank Ambrose
Pavlov, Ivan Petrovich
Time Periods
20th century
21st century
20th century, late
Early modern
19th century
United States
Soviet Union
Ford Foundation
Rockefeller Foundation
Carnegie Institution of Washington

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