Sexuality in the (Nineteenth-Century) City: Practicing Class in Gotham’s Bedrooms

Author(s): James A Moore

Year: 2016


Sexuality provides a powerful mechanism for patrolling the boundaries of socially constructed communities.   Imagined as a natural expression of basic human behavior, sexuality naturalizes social boundaries and marks them as immutable.  In the Nineteenth Century, the medical ills of the "overly-civilized" were identified as having a sexual basis.  Hysteria was given an etiology of too frequent sexual activity.  Education or business would interfere with the proper development of the uterus. For males, too frequent sexual activities could drain vital energies.  Continence was required for proper moral and physical development.  The division between the "overly-civilized" and others was defined by sexuality, fertility and moral character.  This division entangled with ethnicity, class and race called for a materiality that provided both a scaffolding and a façade.  The materiality of these practices is expressed across Gotham in the number and configuration of bedrooms used by the family, and at times, servants and staff.

Cite this Record

Sexuality in the (Nineteenth-Century) City: Practicing Class in Gotham’s Bedrooms. James A Moore. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434545)


class Sexuality Urban

Geographic Keywords
North America United States of America

Temporal Keywords
Nineteenth Century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 825