Greta LaFleur is associate professor of American Studies at Yale University. Her research and teaching focuses on early North American literary and cultural studies, the history of science, the history of race, the history and historiography of sexuality, and queer studies. Her book, The Natural History of Sexuality in Early America (2018), draws from the history of sexuality and early environmental studies to explore how sexual behaviours were understood in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world.
She is currently at work on two book projects; A Queer History of Sexual Violence, examines the relationship of cultural and legal responses to sexual violence to the history of sexuality; Counter-Empiricisms: Other Human Sciences in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World, rewrites the story of early modern and eighteenth-century empiricism as an expansive, embodied form of knowledge-making that not only delimited understandings of humanness and enfranchisement in this period, but also, at times, expanded them. She is also editing, with Kyla Schuller, a special issue of American Quarterly, on ‘Origins of Biopolitics in the Americas’ (forthcoming Sept. 2019).
During Summer 2019, Greta LaFleur is at work on an article-length project, tentatively titled ‘Sex, Outside,’ which considers the long and multifaceted genealogy of what she terms “environmental” theories of sexuality: modes of theorizing sexuality that depart from the identity paradigm, that locate the origins and etiologies of sexuality in sources external to the subject. This project tracks the persistence of modes of imagining sexual behavior that do not locate subjectivity as sexuality’s dominant or inevitable etiology.
Building on her research on the history of sexuality in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world, LaFleur explores the implications of shifting the framework of sexuality away from the exclusive purview of the subject, and considers to what degree earlier, environmental visions of sexuality have persisted into our own moment, sometimes in forms barely recognizable as sexuality at all.