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There are two basic parts to Boswell's book on homosexuality and tolerance: 1) that Christian society was not always and inevitable intolerant of homosexuality; and 2) that the shift to intolerance can be localized to a particular historic period and related to other significant cultural and political shifts during that period. Perhaps the present day is an opportunity for understanding just how a conjunction of unrelated forces can combine to create apparently illogical shifts in popular thinking. Or at least apparent shifts in popular thinking.

This section of Boswell's work points up some of the structural flaws of his study, in my opinion. "Structural flaws" does not necessarily mean "incorrect data and evidence" but rather that the large-scale conclusions are shaped by the ways in which that evidence is interpreted. And in his quest to find evidence for the existence of a postive gay subculture, there are times when he is deliberately credulous (such as taking politically-motivated accusations of sodomy as descriptive fact) or fails to consider the meaning of the asymmetries in the data.

In this section of Boswell's study of shifting attitudes toward (male) homosexuality under Christianity, he explores the question of "why should sexual behavior come in for judgment at all?" as well as the specific trains of thought that were used to support condemnation of homosexuality specifically. He points out that it wasn't a foregone conclusion that Christianity would take this path, and that some of the background set-up for the rise of intolerance was demographic and political rather than philosophical. This shouldn't come as a surprise.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 41d - Lesbian Vikings - transcript

(Originally aired 2019/12/28 - listen here)

My discussion and criticism is mostly dispersed throughout the summaries for this work. Posting in haste because I have a podcast to record.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 41c - Things I Loved in 2019 - transcript

(Originally aired 2019/12/21 - listen here)

Calendars are arbitrary things, and yet it’s hard not to get caught up in the urge to summarize what we’ve done, what we’ve consumed, what we’ve loved when that arbitrary reference point in the Earth’s solar circumnavigation arrives.

This blog title is the polar opposite of my own attitude, and the fact that the author of the paper I'm covering today states it in his conclusions might go some way to illustrating why I find his research frustrating and annoying. The rest of my commentary on this point is interleaved with my summary of the article.

My commentary on this article has been incorporated into a final paragraph, rather than being placed here in the introduction. Overall, I think Hitchcock makes a fascinating case for connecting various historical trends across the 18th century. But I think he has significant blind spots as well. I think that trends in age at first marriage and overall marriage rates cannot be separated from economic patterns that make it more or less possible for women (especially) to be economically viable outside the marriage economy.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 41b - The Highwaywoman Special (Reprise)

(Originally aired 2017/09/30, this airing 2019/12/14 - listen here)

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 41a - On the Shelf for December 2019 - Transcript

(Originally aired 2019/12/07 - listen here)

Welcome to On the Shelf for December 2019.


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