Dear colleagues,

It’s my pleasure to advertise the afternoon symposium ‘Medical Approaches to Sexual Problems, 1550–1850’, the description and programme of which can be found below. The proceedings will take place on Monday the 18th of February at the Institut für Geschichte der Medizin und Ethik in der Medizin (Thielallee 71, 14195 Berlin-Dahlem).


Attending is free, but please send me ([log in to unmask]) an RSVP in advance so we can ensure enough coffee, biscuits, and seats.


With apologies for cross-posting and kind regards,

Darren Wagner



Medical explanations and treatments of issues related to sex and sexuality are socially grounded and ethically fraught. Today, debate surrounds such topics as infant sex assignment, sex reassignment surgery, public health approaches to sexually transmitted infections, pathological categories of sexual behaviors, and drug-based therapies for sexual desire and excitement, just to name a few. These issues have a long and rich history, which the colloquium will explore in different European contexts spanning from the mid-sixteenth century through to the mid-nineteenth century. This specific chronology encompasses a crucial period in the medicalization of sex, and its relationship to developments in pathology, specialization, and professionalization. Drawing upon a wide range of historical topics and critical perspectives, the speakers will examine this inherently diverse and complicated theme.



13.30 – 13.40   Welcome | Begrüßung


13.40 – 14.25   Palmira Fontes da Costa, Universidade Nova de Lisboa

‘Sex, Monsters and Hermaphrodites in Early Modern Europe’


14.25 – 15.10   Sebastian Pranghofer, Helmut-Schmidt-Universität, Hamburg

‘Ideas about Sexuality and Reproduction: Popular Medical Literature and its Reception in Late Enlightenment Germany’


15.10 – 15.30   Kaffeepause


15.30 – 16.15   James Kennaway, University of Roehampton, London

‘Musical Sensuality as a Moral and Medical Problem, 1750–1850’


16.15 – 17.00   Darren N. Wagner, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

‘How Electricity Became a Panacea for Sexual Problems in Britain and Beyond’


The presentations for this symposium will be delivered in English, but we are also pleased to field questions in German.

Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow

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