This text provides an account of the changes that have taken place in the social construction of sexuality during the past century. Focusing on Sacramento, California, at the dawn of the 20th century, the author juxtaposes early cinema and vaudeville performances and popular newspapers and magazines with insights from close interpretations of transcripts from Sacramento court cases. She demonstrates how attitudes that emerged in the popular discourse - ideas about gender roles, female desire, prostitution, divorce and homosexuality - often found complex and contradictory expression in the courts. As judges, prosecutors, defence attorneys and juries all weighed in with differing opinions, the courtroom itself became a site of multiple discourses that attempted to make sense of a growing sexual chaos. In tracing the birth of modern sexuality, Ullman chronicles the dynamics of social change during a cultural moment and explains the shifts in the sexual ethos of turn-of-the-century America. Ullman blends social history, textual analysis and film and performance criticism to explain how sexuality became an essential part of social identity in this century.