In the mid-twentieth century, American psychiatrists were among the most powerful arbiters of judgment and authority over sexual and gender difference. Princeton professor and award-winning author Regina Kunzel describes the vexed encounter of sexual- and gender-variant people with psychiatry and psychoanalysis, and examines the role of psychiatric scrutiny and stigma in the making of modern sexuality.
Regina Kunzel is Doris Stevens Professor in Women's Studies and Professor of History and the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Princeton University. She teaches and writes about gender and sexuality in modern American history.
Her first book, Fallen Women, Problem Girls: Unmarried Mothers and the Professionalization of Social Work, 1890–1945, explores the social and cultural history of out-of-wedlock pregnancy and motherhood in the first half of the twentieth century. She shows how attempts to deal with the 'issue' of unwed pregnancy created conflict between three groups: the women themselves, evangelical reformers who wanted to save these women, and increasingly professionalized social workers who saw unwed mothers as a social problem to be solved.
Her most recent book, Criminal Intimacy: Prison and the Uneven History of Modern American Sexuality, received the American Historical Association's John Boswell Prize, the Modern Language Association's Alan Bray Memorial Award, the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Studies, the Foundation for the Scientific Study of Sexuality Bonnie and Vern L. Bullogh Award, and was a finalist for the American Studies Association's John Hope Franklin Prize. In Criminal Intimacy, Kunzel examines the sexual lives of prisoners and the sexual culture of prisons in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, arguing that what both reveal is a more complicated, nuanced picture of modern sexuality in America.
Kunzel's current book project concerns the encounters of sexual- and gender-variant people with psychiatry and psychoanalysis in mid-twentieth-century United States. How, she asks, have psychiatric scrutiny and medicalization driven our understanding of mental illness and norms of health in the making of modern sexuality?
She holds a PhD in History from Yale University and a BA from Stanford University. Before joining the faculty at Princeton in 2013, she was a professor of History and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota. She has been a fellow at the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.