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Response to Review of Disturbing Practices: History, Sexuality and Women’s Experience of Modern War, 1914-18

I would like to thank the reviewer for a generous and careful engagement with the arguments I present in my book. I cannot but think it is a good thing there was a six-month period between his initial reading and writing his review, as my interest in disturbing how we currently go about historicizing sexuality entails rethinking what we have been doing and working out new historiographical methods. I recognize that, on first reading, the complex ideas I explore may prove difficult, especially for readers who are unfamiliar with queer thought.

I entirely agree there is urgent need for a sustained historical analysis of the normal – a task to which queer critical history is ideally suited, as it attuned to problems of representation and contested meanings and in conversation with the critique of normalization forged by queer theorists and critics. This is why I have now begun work on a new book-length study entitled Average and Healthy: A Cultural History of the Normal in Britain, 1900–60. For a tantalizing glimpse of this new direction in my research I might direct readers to an essay I recently published on Marie Stopes and Stella Browne (“‘A Peculiarly Obscure Subject’: the missing ‘case’ of the heterosexual”) that appears in a collection edited by Brian Lewis (British Queer History: New Approaches and Perspectives, published by Manchester University Press in 2013).