Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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(946 words)

“Lesbian” in its modern sense differs drastically from its meaning before 1850: “from the island of Lesbos” (the home of the poet Sappho). From the middle of the 18th century, relations between women increasingly became a subject of medical and legal discourses that sought in a controlling way to tie women into a heterosexual gender order (Gender roles), and that consistently biologized female sexuality. The term “Lesbianism” is first attested in its contemporary sense from 1870, and in German the expression lesbische Liebe (“Lesbian love”) dates from the late 18th century [5].…

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Jarzebowski, Claudia, “Lesbianism”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 22 March 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_SIM_023344>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20190801

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