Dr. Hanne Blank
Dr. Hanne Blank is a historian, writer, editor, and public speaker whose interdisciplinary work lies at the intersection of bodies, selves, and cultures. Her fascination with the ways bodies—and all that we experience and enact through them—help to create us as members of cultures with highly specific individual and social identities have led her to work on topics ranging from fatness to heterosexuality and feminist health to virginity.
The author or editor of ten books that include Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality (Beacon Press), Virgin: The Untouched History (Bloomsbury), and the forthcoming FAT (Bloomsbury, fall 2020), Dr. Blank joyfully bridges the town/gown divide with a deep commitment to public history as well as more traditional academic work. Other publications include, but are certainly not limited to, chapters in The Oxford Handbook of Music and the Body, numerous articles and book reviews, and a forthcoming monograph on feminist women’s health activism in the U.S. South from the 1960s to the 1990s.
Dr. Blank received the Ph.D. in History from Emory University, where she was also trained in the Emory Center for Ethics. As an educator-activist who combines historical and bioethics work in the causes of feminism, women’s health, LGBTQIA+ liberation, disability rights, radical body acceptance, and progressive Judaism, she has been a guest instructor, lecturer, and community advocate at institutions including Emory Healthcare, the Emory University School of Medicine, Emory University, Harvard University, Congregation Bet Haverim, Dickinson College, Bloomsburg University, the Virginia Festival of the Book, St. Mary’s College, Johns Hopkins University, Minnesota College of Art and Design, and many others.For the past 3+ years, Dr. Blank 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 Facebook and Twitter.
Currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies department at Denison University, Dr. Blank teaches courses including “Issues in Feminism,” “How Sexuality Shaped America,” “Women, Bodies, and the Making of Medical Knowledge,” and “Being Lesbian: Same-Sex Loving Women in the U.S. from 1800-2000” as well as advising advanced research.
Dr. Blank lives in a small town in central Ohio with her husband, a liberal distribution of dogs and cats, and ever-expanding collections of books, fountain pen inks, lipsticks, and yarn.
“…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
Research & Writing
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.
Southern Women, Feminist Health documents twenty-five years in the annals of five southeastern U.S. feminist women’s health organizations. With a broad view of the part played by these organizations in popularizing feminist health priorities and clinical practices throughout the southeast, this monograph delves deep into relationships between politics, place, and women’s bodies.
In this monograph, Blank surveys previously unhistoricized organizations including the Mari Spehar Health Education Project (Fayetteville, AR), CHOICES – Memphis Center for Reproductive Health (Memphis, TN), and the Tallahassee Feminist Women’s Health Center (Tallahassee, FL) as well as bringing new material and analyses to the histories of the Atlanta Feminist Women’s Health Project (Atlanta, GA) and the National Black Women’s Health Project (Atlanta, GA). In these chapters we discover the ways in which feminist health advocates created and disseminated not only new healthcare opportunities but new models and new ways of thinking about what it means for women to obtain quality health care, particularly in the traditionally conservative southern U.S.
Fucking Dykes: Lesbian Feminist Radical Sexual Histories, 1960-1990
So-called “second wave feminists” often took their politics into the bedroom, dreaming of a sexual culture in which women could be free of the expectations and demands of patriarchal, hierarchical, capitalist, and sexist culture. They wanted a sexual reality in which women who desired women could do it openly, bountifully, joyously, and with all the pleasure they could generate.
With this on their minds, lesbian feminists experimented with multiple relationship formats including nonmonogamy, polyamory, celibacy, group and line relationships, and casual sex. Gender was much on their minds as well, from the androgyny some women thought would liberate them from sexist gender roles to discussions of the presence and meanings of masculine and feminine “energy” to the controversial butch-femme dynamic. They also experimented widely in terms of sexual activity, variously enjoying and fighting bitterly over practices ranging from penetration to bondage to pornography to using sex toys. Well before the infamous “lesbian sex wars” that emerged in the early 1980s, well before HIV and AIDS transformed a nation’s sexual imaginary, lesbian feminists were deeply invested not just in understanding sexuality and its meaning in their lives, but in creating a liberatory sexuality that went way beyond just being able to take the Pill.
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.
Since the 1990s, Hanne Blank has been a popular speaker at colleges and universities. Dr. Blank speaks with humor and insight on her research, activism, and, in particular, on issues of embodiment and bodily experience including sexuality, sexual orientation, and body size/fatness.