The Centre for the History of European Discourses was incorporated in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in August 2015.

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This paper is interested in how shifts in medico-legal discourse have influenced the very conditions of understanding and telling of an act. Although, during the 19th century sodomy possessed a history of appearance as an act involving both affection and violence, at the century's end questions of pleasure and desire gained ascendancy, developed shape and became of prime significance. What prioritisation of these forms of problematisation has created and delimited, for an adult male penetrated against his will, is to be investigated here.

A focus is placed on detailing how modern male bodies were to be divided up and the means by which to decipher and diagnose their movements. Attention is on noting the regimes of valuation and devaluation, of activity and passivity; on inculcations of individual responsibility; on the allocation of an instrumental, secondary role, to the erect penis and on the promotion of specific ideas of latency, where desire can lay dormant within. Drawing on both English and Continental medico-legal texts, there is no suggestion of a homogenous whole, or some decisive break, more a sedimenting and cementing in of particular kinds of questions, questions which continue to circulate in our present.

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