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History of Sex

24 May 2024
6.00pm – 7.00pm AEST
Carriageworks Track 8
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David Baker, Rob Brooks, Esmé Louise James

David Baker | Rob Brooks | Esmé Louise James

How did sex begin? How did it evolve to become so varied and complex in humans? And what could sex look like for future generations? 

Hosted by evolutionary biologist Rob Brooks, this blush-worthy panel discussion features sex historian Esmé Louise James and historian David Baker. Esmé adapted her wildly popular TikTok series into a book, Kinky History: The Stories of Our Intimate Lives, Past and Present, and David’s Sex: Two Billion Years of Procreation and Recreation charts sex’s evolution from early life to sexbots.

Bone up on carnal knowledge across the centuries and find out what the future of fornication holds.  

This event is presented by the Sydney Writers' Festival and supported by UNSW Sydney. 


UNSW Sydney is the exclusive university sponsor and proud Premier Partner of the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Featuring UNSW academics and researchers on Sydney Writers’ Festival stages, and events at the UNSW Kensington Campus, this partnership brings together a shared vision of creativity, curiosity and thought leadership. 


Ticket Prices*
Adult – $25 
Concession – $15
Wheelchair User – $15

*plus booking fees

Venue Information
This event will take place live at Carriageworks. For all venue and visitor safety information, please visit Sydney Writers' Festival.


This event will be closed captioned.

Wheelchair Access
All Festival venues are accessible, and provide wheelchair and level access. To book accessible seats at Carriageworks, please contact the Sydney Writers' Festival Box Office on 02 9256 4200 or email

Accessible Parking
Accessible parking is available at Carriageworks. Please call 02 8571 9099 for more information.


Carriageworks is located at 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh. This is a 10 minute walk from Redfern Station, City Road bus stops and Macdonaldtown Station. Catching public transport is strongly recommended as residential parking in the area is strictly limited, and the Sydney Writers' Festival offers shuttle bus services from Redfern Station at selected times. For more information on transport, visit or visit,



Sydney Writers' Festival
For all event enquiries, contact the Sydney Writers' Festival on 02 9256 4200 or email

UNSW Centre for Ideas
For all other enquiries, contact the UNSW Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485 or email

National Relay Service
The UNSW Centre for Ideas and Sydney Writers' Festival are happy to receive phone calls via the National Relay Service. TTY users, phone 133 677, then ask for the applicable organisations phone number (listed above). Speak and Listen users, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for applicable organisations phone number (listed above). Internet relay users, visit, then ask for applicable organisations phone number (listed above). 

David Baker

David Baker

David Baker is a science historian, script-writer for, and podcast host based in Townsville. He previously taught at University of Calgary, University of Amsterdam, Macquarie University, and is a visiting lecturer at University Paris-Sorbonne. He created a quarter of the content in the Bill Gates Big History Project curriculum, and worked with John Green and Hank Green on a special series of Crash Course. His most recent literary works are Sex: 2 Billion Years of Procreation and Recreation and The Shortest History of the World" He is also known for writing harrowing 3-hour epics on the world's worst serial killers for The Casual Criminalist.

Rob Brooks

Rob Brooks

Rob Brooks is Professor of Evolution at UNSW Sydney and a popular science author. He has spent his career understanding the many complexities and conflict that sex and reproduction add to the lives of animals, including human animals. His popular writing explores the murky confluence of culture, economics and biology, and how new technologies interact with our evolved minds and bodies. He has won the Queensland Literary Award for Science (for his first book Sex, Genes and Rock ‘n’ Roll), and the Eureka Prize for Science Communication. His articles have been published in Psyche, CNN, The Atlantic, The Sydney Morning Herald, Areo, and many other publications. His latest book Artificial Intimacy: Virtual Friends, Digital Lovers, and Algorithmic Matchmakers considers what happens when new technology collides with our ancient ways of forming relationships and falling in love.

Esmé Louise James

Esmé Louise James

Esmé Louise James (@esme.louisee) is a PhD Candidate, TEDx Speaker, and creator of the Kinky History with over three million followers. She has produced a range of non-fiction articles for publications such as The Age, the ABC and The Conversation, as well as short stories and poetry, for publications such as Hardie Grant Press and Archer. Esmé's book Kinky History was published by Pantera Press in Australia, and TarcherPerigee worldwide, in 2024. She received funding from Screen Australia's Every Voice initiative for the TikTok series, SexTistics, and was nominated for Best Digital Creator at the 2022 AACTA Awards. In 2023, Esmé was honoured with the University of Melbourne's Rising Star Alumni