Home » Fall 2009 » Fall Visits from Dr. John Gagnon, Dan Savage, Visiting Researchers and the Kinsey Board of Governors and Trustees

Fall Visits from Dr. John Gagnon, Dan Savage, Visiting Researchers and the Kinsey Board of Governors and Trustees

Dr. John Gagnon with Kinsey Institute Curator Catherine Johnson-Roehr.

World renowned sociologist Dr. John Gagnon spent a week at The Kinsey Institute and Indiana University, meeting with students and faculty to lend insight from his sociological perspective, and from years of experience as an innovative sex researcher.

In his lecture, "Kinsey and a Half Century of Sex Surveys: Lessons Lost and Found," Dr. Gagnon recalled his tenure as a member of the staff of the Institute for Sex Research (the former name of The Kinsey Institute), which he joined in 1959. Dr. Gagnon noted that students in sex research today must work within stricter boundaries in their disciplines, whether it be psychology, sociology, education, etc, whereas in the 1950's and 60's, there was no field of sexology. He also pointed out how Alfred Kinsey was able to conduct his research in large part due to the protection of Herman Wells, President of Indiana University and a staunch supporter of academic freedom, and also due to the limitations of the media. Embarking on a national study of sex in America in 1990, the research team at the University of Chicago were innundated from the first day with media attention; this attention was sufficient to halt a number of sex research surveys and to limit the scope of others.

Dr. John Gagnon and Susanna Walters, Professor of Gender Studies at IU.

In his second lecture, “My Unlikely Career as a Sex Researcher: Insights for the Next Generation of Scholars,” Dr. Gagnon challenged students to examine funding sources, to go beyond a disease model of understanding sexual behavior, and to continue to practice rigorous research but to think beyond departmental boundaries.

Dr. John Gagnon is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

His best known works include Sexual Conduct (with William Simon) first published in 1973 and revised in 2005, as well as co-authoring The Social Organization of Sexuality and Sex in America in 1994.

Gagnon and KI researchers
John Gagnon with KI researchers Julia Heiman, Heather Rupp, Erick Janssen and Stephanie Sanders.

Since his retirement he has edited or written four books in the area of sexuality including An Interpretation of Desire (2004). He has authored or co-authored more that 100 papers or book chapters. He has been a visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, a visiting Professor at Princeton University, at the University of Essex and an Overseas Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge University. He is a fellow of the AAAS, the SSSS, and Past President of the International Academy of Sex Research.


Seattle sex advice columnist Dan Savage tours the Institute..

Sex advice columnist Dan Savage appeared at Indiana University during Sexploration Week in October to speak to IU students at a very well-attended Q&A event, co-sponsored by The Kinsey Institute.

Savage spoke without a prepared text; instead, he answered questions submitted by the audience of IU students and Bloomington community members. The questions covered the sexual spectrum from deep philosophy to biology, and led Savage to topics like men's propensity to cheat, the cultural identification of anal sex with gay men (which he compared to the sheer volume of heterosexual anal sex), quality concerns with scented sex toys, being a college-aged virgin, and the ethics and responsibilities of casual sexual encounters.

On the topic of marriage, he spoke about the redefinition of marriage over the past century away from the more feudal exchange of property to the modern concept of marriage as the individual's expression of romantic love and commitment to their partner. As a vocal proponent of gay marriage, Savage feels that in this modern context, defending the gay right to marry is a natural extension of human rights and freedoms.

As a final word of advice to young people entering perhaps their first sexual or romantic relationships in the college environment, Savage reiterated that communication between partners is the key to positive, satisfying sexual encounters. Deciding to engage in sex is the beginning of the conversation, not the end, he explained, and recommended four little words as the prelude to any new sexual relationship: "What are you into?"

Earlier that day, Savage also visited The Kinsey Institute to meet with Director Julia Heiman, and Kinsey Confidential columnist Dr. Debby Herbenick, and tour the collections with KI Curator Catherine Johnson-Roehr and Assistant Curator Garry Milius.

Savage's sex advice column, Savage Love, is published in the Seattle weekly newspaper, The Stranger, and is accompanied online by a daily blog and podcast.

You can read more about Dan Savage's IU talk on Kinsey Confidential.

Jennifer Bass and Ana Carvalheira
KI Communications Director Jennifer Bass (L) with visiting scholar Professor Ana Carvalheira (R).


Ana Carvalheira, PhD, research psychologist from University Institute of Applied Psychology in Lisbon, Portugal, was a guest of the Institute in November.

Dr. Carvalheira presented her research on desire and arousal in women in long- and short-term relationships, and met with Kinsey researchers to discuss methodological options for new research.

Dr. Caravalheira's work in clinical settings, counseling women with sexual problems, is leading her research towards uncovering the psychological and cultural scripts that affect sexual satisfaction.

Visiting graduate students from Portugal with Dr. Erick Janssen.

Joana Carvalho and Ana Gomes, both Ph.D. students at the Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro in Portugal, visited the Institute in September.

Joana studies sexual aggression and Ana works in the area of sexual dysfunction. They both work with Dr. Pedro Nobre, who has visited the Kinsey Institute in the past.

Dr. Erick Janssen, who helped Dr Nobre in setting up the very first psychophysiological sexlab in Portugal, is co-advisor of Joana's dissertation project.


The Kinsey Institute Board of Governors and Board of Trustees met in Bloomington in September for a semi-annual meeting. The Kinsey Institute boards include individuals from business and academia, as well as curators and researchers. They contribute their expertise to advise the Institute, and oversee the preservation of our collections and development of our research mission.

KI Board of Governors and Board of Trustees at the Fall 2009 Joint Board Meeting.
From left: Malcolm Daniel, Lauren Robel, Lisa Weber, Richard Zhao, Joanne Passett, Michael Kirby, Wendy Kinsey Corning, Helen Lefkowtz Horowitz, Judy Simic, Julie Goonewardene, Julia Heiman, Betsy Stirratt, Steven Blake, Scott Long, Claude Cookman, Kevin Quashie, Bobby Schnabel, Gail Freeman, Fred Cate, Michael Sherrod, Lynn Luckow, Richard Gunderman.

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