‘Structures of Medical Knowledge’
Conveners: Drs Erica Charters and Elise Smith
Coffee is available from 2.00pm – Seminars begin at 2.15pm prompt
Week 5 – 11 November
Seth LeJacq, Johns Hopkins University
Reading the Sodomitical Body: Medical and Lay Body Evidence in English Homosexual Sex Crimes Trials, 1700-1850
This paper examines the legal contributions of both medical and lay witnesses relating to homosexual sex and the bodies of “sodomites” and the sodomized in England in the long eighteenth century. It argues that medical evidence played a limited role in prosecutions, while vernacular body knowledge was of much greater importance. This vernacular knowledge reveals the ways in which “nameless offenses” were understood in straightforward, universal, and easily-understood and -explained terms.
Seth LeJacq is a PhD candidate in the Department of the History of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University. He has a BA from Cornell University, where he wrote an honors thesis for the History Department on the British Holocaust denier David Irving. His dissertation research deals with the history of the British Royal Navy from the late 17th century through the 1840s. He is using the records of the navy’s judicial system to explore the body history and vernacular bodily knowledge of sailors, and is focusing in particular on trials for sexual offenses. His work also seeks to contribute to the history of homosexuality.
He is the author of the Roy Porter Student Prize Essay The Bounds of Domestic Healing: Medical Recipes, Storytelling and Surgery in Early Modern England.