Hanne Blank Boyd
Hanne Blank Boyd is a writer, editor, and consultant whose published work lies at the intersection of bodies, selves, and cultures.
She is the author or editor of ten books that include Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality (Beacon Press), Virgin: The Untouched History (Bloomsbury), and most recently FAT (Bloomsbury, 2020). She publishes as Hanne Blank.
Dr. Blank Boyd received the Ph.D. in History at Emory University, where she was also trained in bioethics at the Emory Center for Ethics.
Formerly a member of the faculty of the Women’s and Gender Studies department at Denison University, Hanne Blank Boyd lives in the Atlanta area with her spouse, a liberal distribution of dogs and cats, and ever-expanding collections of books, fountain pens and inks, lipstick, and yarn.
Since 2016, she has also been committed to a social-media based activist project, the Reasons Not to Quit (#reasonsnottoquit), which provides daily doses of politically progressive, affirming mental and social health support to all via Twitter.
“…informative, funny and provocative.”
© Hanne Blank
“Blank is open and honest about her own life throughout, she doesn’t share in order to titillate or provoke or posture or impress. She doesn’t urge us to think well of her, or poorly — nor does she include unnecessary information. Blank wields the personal…”
Los Angeles Review of Books
Public enemy. Crucial macronutrient. Health risk. Punchline. Moneymaker. Epidemic. Sexual fetish. Moral failing. Necessary bodily organ. Conveyor of flavor. Freak-show spectacle. Never mind the stereotype, fat is never sedentary: its definitions, identities, and meanings are manifold and in constant motion. In a culture in which fat is demonized in medicine and public policy, adored by chefs and nutritional faddists (and let’s face it, most of us who eat), simultaneously desired and abhorred when it comes to sex, and continually courted by a multi-billion-dollar fitness and weight-loss industry, it’s ironic that for so many people, “fat” is nothing more than an insult or a wail of despair. In Hanne Blank’s book we find fat as state, as possession, as metaphor, as symptom, as object of desire, intellectual and carnal. Here, “feeling fat” and literal fat merge, blurring the boundaries and infusing one another with richer, fattier meanings.
Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality (Beacon Press)
Like the typewriter and the light bulb, the heterosexual was invented in the 1860s and swiftly transformed Western culture. The idea of “the heterosexual” was unprecedented. After all, men and women had been having sex, marrying, building families, and sometimes even falling in love for millennia without having any special name for their emotions or acts. Yet, within half a century, “heterosexual” had become a byword for “normal,” enshrined in law, medicine, psychiatry, and the media as a new gold standard for human experience. With an eclectic scope and fascinating detail, Straight tells the eye-opening story of a complex and often contradictory man-made creation that turns out to be anything but straight or narrow.
“From its thorough but brisk explorations of sexual orientation’s intersections with sex, gender, and romance, this illuminating study examines our presuppositions and makes a powerful, provocative argument that heterosexuality—mazy, unscientific, and new—may be merely “a particular configuration of sex and power in a particular historical moment.”—Publishers Weekly
|Virgin: The Untouched History (Bloomsbury)
“By any material reckoning, virginity does not exist,” writes Blank in this informative, funny and provocative analysis of one of the most elusive—and prized—qualities of human sexuality. Blank, an independent scholar, has pieced together a history of how humans have constructed the idea of virginity (almost always female and heterosexual) and engineered its uses to suit cultural and political forces. Blank has no shortage of fascinating facts: since Western virginity was symbolized by the color white, missionaries viewed nonwhite peoples as sexually immoral; late medieval and Renaissance moralists thought they could detect whether a woman was a virgin by examining her urine (“a virgin’s was clear, sparkling, and thin”). Blank also has a pleasing, highly readable style that allows her to convey large amounts of information with wit and agility. But she becomes most animated, and political, when she probes contemporary ideas about virginity. Taking on a range of questions—why is virginity considered sexy? how does the idea of virginity fuel violence against women?—she makes the case that contemporary culture is as obsessed with, and benighted about, virginity, as those of the past. Thoroughly researched, carefully argued and written with a sly sense of humor, this is a bright addition to the popular literature of women’s and cultural studies.”
With impeccable research and detail, Hanne Blank uncovers the fascinating, often hidden, history of heterosexuality. Straight is a marvelous cultural history that is as entertaining as it is profoundly enlightening and necessary for understanding the world in which we live.