Sexed: How We Became Ourselves
In the 1980s, artist and feminist Mariette Pathy Allen entitled her image of an infant being born “The Last Gender Free Moment.” That gorgeous photograph now resides in the Kinsey Institute collections, asking us to wonder about the what and the when of sex and gender.
Sexed: How We Became Ourselves looks to the longer North American past to explore these timely questions. The research charts a history before the popular rise of “adolescence” as a life moment in the late nineteenth century. Adopting a feminist epistemology, and decentering the archive of white middle-class achievement in favor of Indigenous and Black histories, the account focuses its story on what we now call middle childhood.
Sarah Knott is Professor of History at IU Bloomington and Research Fellow at the Kinsey Institute. She is the author or editor of four books, including Mother Is A Verb: An Unconventional History which was published by Farrar Straus and Giroux in New York and Penguin Viking in London and translated into five languages. Her most recent book is Mothering’s Many Labours, co-edited with Emma Griffin. Her essays and commentary have appeared in the William & Mary Quarterly, the American Historical Review and Past & Present, as well as in The Guardian, TLS, LARB, and BBC History Magazine.