Publisher, film maker, and doctor of erotology, Marianna Beck, PhD, visited Minneapolis to discuss the history and culture of sex with first year medical students.
On June 3, 2009, Beck traveled from Chicago to present "Sex, Science, and Social Code" as part of the Human Sexuality Course taught by PHS faculty. Her talk explored the historical and cultural attitudes surrounding the body, closely examining the historical approaches to the understanding of conception, perceived differences in male/female bodies and brains, and weird medical fads and other expressions surrounding the material culture of sex. Beck believes that the context of religious and moral attitudes directly affect how we study medicine, "The convergence of science, sex, and culture has spawned some spectacularly bizarre movements and ideas -- occasionally amusing -- but more often horrific." She added that while medical schools often focus on the most cutting edge research it is important to look back and "to be mindful that the history of medicine is replete with approaches more reflective of social codes than science. By looking at societal values and the material culture of sex, one can begin to unravel the often hidden intersection of what society professes to be and what it actually comprises."
Inspired by recognizing historical connections through art, culture, and medicine, Beck currently teaches the Material Culture of Sex at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She would like to expand her instruction to reach more medical students. Beck started her career as a free-lance journalist and then co-founded the literary journal Libido: The Journal of Sex and Sensibility. The journal was in circulation for 12 years and had an enthusiastic following of couple thousand subscribers in the United States as well as one subscriber on every continent including Antarctica. The complete volumes of Libido are housed at the British Library and the Kinsey Institute.
Beck is also an award winning film maker. Her projects include, Trial Run (2006), Orgasmic Women (2005), Orgasm: Faces of Ecstasy (2004), Urban Friction -- A Modern Romance; Ecstatic Moments (1999), and Sexual Ecstasy for Couples (1999). In 1998 she received her PhD in erotology which is the study of the material culture of sex and explores all the different ways societies manifest sexual expression.
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