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With an eye for the sensual bloom of young schoolgirls & the torrid style of the romantic novels of her day, Herculine Barbin tells the story of her life as a. With an eye for the sensual bloom of young schoolgirls, and the torrid style of the romantic novels of her day, Herculine Barbin tells the story of her life as a. Herculine Barbin dite Alexina B is the story of a young hermaphrodite who lived, studied and taught in nineteenth-century France. Her story, which was.

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Being the Recently Discovered Memoirs of a Nineteenth-century French Hermaphrodite is a English-language translation of Herculine Barbin ‘s nineteenth-century memoirs, which were originally written in French. The book contains an introduction by Michel Foucaultwhich only appears in the English-language translation of the memoirs. Herculine Barbin was born in as a female. Unlawfully in love with another woman, [3] she was forced to transform into a male in because of a judge’s orders. Foucault explained in his introduction that the objective of social institutions was to restrict “the free choice of indeterminate individuals”.


When they reached adulthood, hermaphrodites in the Middle Ages were allowed to decide whether they wanted to be male or female.

When a person demonstrated the physical or mental traits of the opposite sex, such aberrations were deemed random or inconsequential.

Meese and Alice Parker noted that the memoir’s lessons are applicable to herculime contemporary world in that the lack of a clear gender identity transgresses the truth.

Starry, Starry Night: the short life of Herculine Barbin – Intersex Day

In his critical introduction, Foucault calls Barbin’s pre-masculine upbringing a “happy limbo of non-identity” xiii. Judith Butlerin her book Gender Troubletakes this as an opportunity to read Foucault against himself, especially in History of Sexuality, Volume I.

She argues that Barbin’s sexual disposition—”one of ambivalence from the outset”—represents a recapitulation of the ambivalence inherent within the religious law that produces her. Specifically, Butler cites the “institutional injunction to pursue the love of the barbim ‘sisters’ and ‘mothers’ of the extended convent family and the absolute prohibition against carrying that love too far”.

Intersex scholar Morgan Holmes states that Barbin’s own writings showed that she saw herself as an “exceptional female”, but female nonetheless.


The collection of memoirs inspired Jeffrey Eugenides to write Middlesex. Believing that the memoir evaded discussion about intersex individuals’ anatomy and emotions, Eugenides concluded that he would “write the story that I wasn’t getting from the memoir”.

Herculine Barbin. Being the recently discovered memoirs of a nineteenth-century hermaphrodite

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The New York Review of Books. Archived from the original on Regions of Sexuality 8.

The New York Times. Compulsory sterilization Discrimination Human rights reports Legal recognition Malta declaration Medical interventions Sex assignment Sex characteristics legal term Yogyakarta Principles.

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Herculine Barbin (memoir) – Wikipedia

Views Read Edit View history. This page was last edited on 3 Octoberat By nerculine this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Herculine Barbin and Michel Foucault.


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