Thomas Laqueur

is the Helen Fawcett Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. His work has been focused on the history of popular religion and literacy; on the history the body– alive and dead; and on the history of death and memory.

He writes regularly for the London Review of Books and the Threepenny Review, among other journals and is a founding editor of Representations. Laqueur is a member of both the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences but is most proud of the Mellon Distinguished Humanist Award, the proceeds from which he used as seed money for programs in religion, human rights, and science studies at Berkeley – all of which are now self-sustaining.

His most recent book is The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains (Princeton 2016). He is currently working on a book about dogs and humans together in western art to be published by Thames and Hudson.


anti masturbation device

The advent of the solitary vice

On the history of masturbation

Masturbation became an important medical and moral issue around 1712, Thomas Laqueur argues. Increasingly viewed by Enlightenment thinkers as a pathology of the solitude of an unmoored mind, the private practice was quickly linked with feelings of shame and guilt, with implications for self and society that would last for centuries.

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