Indiana University Cinema Bloomington, IN


Dr. Julia Heiman

Professor of Psychological/Brain Sciences, Indiana University; Former Director, The Kinsey Institute


Dr. Judith Allen

Professor of History, Indiana University; Kinsey Scholar


Jennifer Bass

Director of Communications, The Kinsey Institute

Kinsey— The Kinsey Legacy: Sex, Science, and Film

A panel discussion about The Kinsey Institute—past, present, and future, its significance, and the film. This covered a wide range of topics relating to The Kinsey Institute and the ongoing cultural concerns of sexual health.

Indiana University Cinema Bloomington, IN

Film Synopsis

A look at the life of Alfred Kinsey, a pioneer in the area of human sexuality research, whose 1948 publication "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" was one of the first recorded works that saw science address sexual behavior.

Based on a true story, this Academy Award-nominated film chronicles the life of pioneering researcher Alfred Kinsey. After being hired to teach biology at Indiana University, Kinsey (Liam Neeson) meets and marries a witty, freethinking female student, Clara McMillen (Laura Linney). In the course of his teaching, he discovers an astonishing dearth of scientific data on sexual behavior. When students seek him out for advice about sexual concerns and problems, he realizes that no one has done the clinical research that would yield reliable answers to their questions. Inspired to explore the emotionally charged subject of sex from a strictly scientific point of view, Kinsey recruits a team of researchers. Over time they refine an interviewing technique, which helps people to break through shame, fear, and guilt and speak freely about their sexual histories. When Kinsey publishes his male study in 1948, the press compares the impact to that of the atom bomb. But as the country enters the more paranoid Cold War era of the 1950s, Kinsey's follow-up study on women is seen as an attack on basic American values. The ensuing outrage and scorn causes Kinsey's benefactors to abandon him. At the same time, the jealousies and acrimony caused by Kinsey's attempt to create a private sexual utopia threaten to tear apart the research team and expose them to unwelcome scrutiny.

About the Speaker

Dr Julia R. Heiman is a sexologist and psychologist. The sixth director of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University, she began on June 1, 2004. Dr. Heiman is also a professor in the Psychology Department at Indiana University with a joint appointment in the Psychiatry Department at the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis.

Dr. Judith Allen is a professor of history at Indiana University and Kinsey scholar. Her research interests include the history of sexuality, reproduction, birth control, demography, sexology/sex research, the history of feminism and related sexual politics movements since the late 18th century, the history of crimes and criminalization in Western and overseas settler societies since 1750, and comparative histories of Anglophone cultures.

Jennifer Bass is the director of communications at The Kinsey Institute and founder of the Kinsey Institute Sexuality Information Service for Students, now Kinsey Confidential.