Sexual Practice and Fantasy in Colonial America and the Early Republic

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Richard Solomon


The sexual practices of European colonists, Native Americans, and African-American slaves of the American colonies and early republic reflected economic and religious disparities, providing specific cultural phenomena in which power relations are established and reaffirmed. These hierarchies not only prescribed the role of sex in quotidian American life; they created lasting traditions in sexual practices that continue to the present day.  For this thesis, I rely on contemporary and classic historiography, religious studies, and gender scholarship to make claims about the role of women in colonial society and the treatment and fantasy-construction of marginalized peoples: namely, African-American slaves and Native Americans. Specifically, I will show how colonial women leveraged their scarcity and sexual desirability to secure their gender’s procreative role and social utility in Puritan and Southern colonies. I will show how the formation and subjugation of the Black slave class acquired distinct and lasting sexual fault lines, how political pressures and economic incentives to justify and nurture slavery shaped whites’ sexual attitudes and behavior, and finally how national myths of manifest destiny and the fecundity of the land came dominate whites experience of native American sexuality.


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Solomon, R. (2017). Sexual Practice and Fantasy in Colonial America and the Early Republic. IU Journal of Undergraduate Research, 3(1), 24-35.