New History of Science: Race Science, the Sexological Research Questionnaire

Two pieces in the September 2020 issue of History of Science may interest AHP readers. Details below.

“William Frédéric Edwards and the study of human races in France, from the Restoration to the July Monarchy,” Ian B. Stewart. Abstract:

Scholars of the nineteenth-century race sciences have tended to identify the period from c.1820–c.1850 as a phase of transition from philologically to physically focused study. In France, the physiologist William Frédéric Edwards (1776–1842) is normally placed near the center of this transformation. A reconsideration of Edwards’ oeuvre in the context of his larger biography shows that it is impossible to see a clear-cut philological to physical “paradigm shift.” Although he has been remembered almost solely for his principle of the permanency of physical “types,” Edwards was also committed to what he recognized as the new science of “linguistique” and proposed a new branch of comparative philology based on pronunciation. Bearing Edwards’ attention to linguistics in mind, this article reconstructs his racial theories in their intellectual contexts and suggests that at a time of emergent disciplinary specialization, Edwards tried to hold discrete fields together and mold them into a new “natural history of man.”

“The evolution of the questionnaire in German sexual science: A methodological narrative,” Douglas Pretsell. Abstract:

The sexological research questionnaire, which became a central research tool in twentieth-century sexology, has a methodological-developmental history stretching back into mid-nineteenth century Germany. It was the product of a prolonged, disruptive encounter between sexual scientists constructing sexual case studies along with newly assertive homosexual men supplying self-penned sexual autobiographies. Homosexual autobiographies were intensely interesting to these men of science but lacked the brevity, structure, and discipline of a formal clinical case study. In the closing decades of the century, efforts to harness and regularize this self-penned material resulted in a series of methodological adaptations. By the turn of the century this process had resulted in the first use of a formal sexual research questionnaire.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.