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Amoral Gower
Language, Sex, and Politics
Diane Watt
University of Minnesota Press, 2003
An innovative reading of John Gower's work and an exciting new approach to medieval vernacular texts. "Moral Gower" he was called by friend and sometime rival Geoffrey Chaucer, and his Confessio Amantis has been viewed as an uncomplicated analysis of the universe, combining erotic narratives with ethical guidance and political commentary. Diane Watt offers the first sustained reading of John Gower's Confessio to argue that this early vernacular text offers no real solutions to the ethical problems it raises--and in fact actively encourages "perverse" readings. Drawing on a combination of queer and feminist theory, ethical criticism, and psychoanalytic, historicist, and textual criticism, Watt focuses on the language, sex, and politics in Gower's writing. How, she asks, is Gower's Confessio related to contemporary controversies over vernacular translation and debates about language politics? How is Gower's treatment of rhetoric and language gendered and sexualized, and what bearing does this have on the ethical and political structure of the text? What is the relationship between the erotic, ethical, and political sections of Confessio Amantis? Watt demonstrates that Gower engaged in the sort of critical thinking more commonly associated with Chaucer and William Langland at the same time that she contributes to modern debates about the ethics of criticism. Diane Watt is senior lecturer in English at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
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Ancient Sex
New Essays
Ruby Blondell and Kirk Ormand
The Ohio State University Press, 2015
Ancient Sex: New Essays presents groundbreaking work in a post-Foucauldian mode on sexuality, sexual identities, and gender identities in ancient Greece and Rome. Since the production of Foucault’s History of Sexuality, the field of classics has been caught in a recursive loop of argument regarding the existence—or lack thereof—of "sexuality" (particularly "homosexuality") as a meaningful cultural concept for ancient Greece and Rome. Much of the argument concerning these issues, however, has failed to engage with the central argument of Foucault’s work, namely, the assertion that sexuality as we understand it is the correlative of a historically specific form of medical and legal discourse that emerged only in the late nineteenth century.

Rather than reopening old debates, Ancient Sex takes up Foucault’s call for discursive analysis and elucidates some of the ways that ancient Greek and Roman texts and visual arts articulate a culturally specific discourse about sexual matters. Each contributor presupposes that sexual and gendered identities are discursively produced, and teases out some of the ways that the Greeks and Romans spoke and thought about these issues. Comprising essays by emerging and established scholars, this volume emphasizes in particular: sexual discourses about women; the interaction between sexual identities and class status; gender as an unstable discursive category (even in antiquity); and the relationships between ancient and modern sexual categories.
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Androgynous Democracy
Modern American Literature and the Dual-Sexed Body Politic
Aaron Shaheen
University of Tennessee Press, 2010

Androgynous Democracy examines how the notions of gender equality propounded by transcendentalists and other nineteenth-century writers were further developed and complicated by the rise of literary modernism. Aaron Shaheen specifically investigates the ways in which intellectual discussions of androgyny, once detached from earlier gonadal-based models, were used by various American authors to formulate their own paradigms of democratic national cohesion. Indeed, Henry James, Frank Norris, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, John Crowe Ransom, Grace Lumpkin, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Marita Bonner all expressed a deep fascination with androgyny—an interest that bore directly on their thoughts about some of the most prominent issues America confronted as it moved into the first decades of the twentieth century.

Shaheen not only considers the work of each of these seven writers individually, but he also reveals the interconnectedness of their ideas. He shows that Henry James used the concept of androgyny to make sense of the discord between the North and the South in the years immediately following the Civil War, while Norris and Gilman used it to formulate a new model of citizenship in the wake of America’s industrial ascendancy. The author next explores the uses Ransom and Lumpkin made of androgyny in assessing the threat of radicalism once the Great Depression had weakened the country’s faith in both capitalism and religious fundamentalism. Finally, he looks at how androgyny was instrumental in the discussions of racial uplift and urban migration generated by Du Bois and Bonner.

Thoroughly documented, this engrossing volume will be a valuable resource in the fields of American literary criticism, feminism and gender theory, queer theory, and politics and nationalism.

Aaron Shaheen is UC Foundation Assistant Professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He has published articles in the Southern Literary Journal, American Literary Realism, and the Henry James Review.

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The Artistic Censoring of Sexuality
Fantasy and Judgment in the Twentieth Century Novel
Susan Mooney
The Ohio State University Press, 2008

Through the twentieth century, from colonial Ireland to the United States, and from Franco's Spain to late Soviet Russia, to include sexuality in a novel signaled social progressiveness and artistic innovation, but also transgression. Certain novelists—such as James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, Luis Martín-Santos, and Viktor Erofeev—radicalized the content of the novel by incorporating sexual thoughts, situations, and fantasies and thus portraying repressed areas of social, cultural, political, and mental life.


In The Artistic Censoring of Sexuality: Fantasy and Judgment in the Twentieth-Century Novel, Susan Mooney extensively examines four modernist and postmodernist novels that prompted in their day harsh external censorship because of their sexual content—Ulysses, Lolita, Time of Silence, and Russian Beauty. She shows how motifs of censorship, with all its restrictions, pressures, rules, judgments, and forms of negation, became artistically embedded in the novels' plots, characters, settings, tropes, and themes. These novels contest censorship's status quo and critically explore its processes and power. This study reveals the impact of censorship on literary creation, particularly in relation to the twentieth century's growing interest in sexuality and its discourses.
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Before Intimacy
Asocial Sexuality in Early Modern England
Daniel Juan Gil
University of Minnesota Press, 2006
Before the eighteenth-century rise of the ideology of intimacy, sexuality was defined not by social affiliations but by bodies. In Before Intimacy, Daniel Juan Gil examines sixteenth-century English literary concepts of sexuality that frame erotic ties as neither bound by social customs nor transgressive of them, but rather as “loopholes” in people’s experiences and associations. 

Engaging the poems of Wyatt, Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella, Spenser’s Amoretti and The Faerie Queene, and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida and the Sonnets, Gil demonstrates how sexuality was conceived as a relationship system inhabited by men and women interchangeably—set apart from the “norm” and not institutionalized in a private or domestic realm. Going beyond the sodomy-as-transgression analytic, he asserts the existence of socially inconsequential sexual bonds while recognizing the pleasurable effects of violating the supposed traditional modes of bonding and ideals of universal humanity and social hierarchy. 

Celebrating the ability of corporeal emotions to interpret connections between people who share nothing in terms of societal structure, Before Intimacy shows how these works of early modern literature provide a discourse of sexuality that strives to understand status differences in erotic contexts and thereby question key assumptions of modernity. 

Daniel Juan Gil is assistant professor of English at TCU.
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Beyond the Flesh
Alexander Blok, Zinaida Gippius, and the Symbolist Sublimation of Sex
Jenifer Presto
University of Wisconsin Press, 2008
Though the Russian Symbolist movement was dominated by a concern with transcending sex, many of the writers associated with the movement exhibited an intense preoccupation with matters of the flesh. Drawing on poetry, plays, short stories, essays, memoirs, and letters, as well as feminist and psychoanalytic theory, Beyond the Flesh documents the often unexpected form that this obsession with gender and the body took in the life and art of two of the most important Russian Symbolists.
            Jenifer Presto argues that the difficulties encountered in reading Alexander Blok and Zinaida Gippius within either a feminist or a traditional, binary gendered framework derive not only from the peculiarities of their creative personalities but also from the specific Russian cultural context. Although these two poets engaged in gendered practices that, at times, appeared to be highly idiosyncratic and even incited gossip among their contemporaries, they were not operating in a vacuum. Instead, they were responding to philosophical concepts that were central to Russian Symbolism and that would continue to shape modernism in Russia.
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Body Work
Objects of Desire in Modern Narrative
Peter Brooks
Harvard University Press, 1993

The desire to know the body is a powerful dynamic of storytelling in all its forms. Peter Brooks argues that modern narrative is intent on uncovering the body in order to expose a truth that must be written in the flesh. In a book that ranges widely through literature and painting, Brooks shows how the imagination strives to bring the body into language and to write stories on the body.

From Rousseau, Balzac, Mary Shelley, and Flaubert, to George Eliot, Zola, Henry James, and Marguerite Duras, from Manet and Gauguin to Mapplethorpe, writers and artists have returned in fascination to the body, the inescapable other of the spirit. Brooks's deep understanding of psychoanalysis informs his demonstration of how the "epistemophilic urge"--the desire to know-guides fictional plots and our reading of them.

It is the sexual body that furnishes the building blocks of symbolization, eventually of language itself-which then takes us away from the body. Yet mind and language need to recover the body, as an other realm that is primary to their very definition. Brooks shows how and why the female body has become the field upon which the aspirations, anxieties, and contradictions of a whole society are played out. And he suggests how writers and artists have found in the woman's body the dynamic principle of their storytelling, its motor force.

This major book entertains and teaches: Brooks presumes no special knowledge on the part of his readers. His account proceeds chronologically from Rousseau in the eighteenth century forward to contemporary artists and writers. Body Work gives us a set of analytical tools and ideas-primarily from psychoanalysis, narrative and film studies, and feminist theory-that enable us to read modern narrative afresh.

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Cannibal Fictions
American Explorations of Colonialism, Race, Gender, and Sexuality
Jeff Berglund
University of Wisconsin Press, 2006
    Objects of fear and fascination, cannibals have long signified an elemental "otherness," an existence outside the bounds of normalcy. In the American imagination, the figure of the cannibal has evolved tellingly over time, as Jeff Berglund shows in this study encompassing a strikingly eclectic collection of cultural, literary, and cinematic texts.
    Cannibal Fictions brings together two discrete periods in U.S. history: the years between the Civil War and World War I, the high-water mark in America's imperial presence, and the post-Vietnam era, when the nation was beginning to seriously question its own global agenda. Berglund shows how P. T. Barnum, in a traveling exhibit featuring so-called "Fiji cannibals," served up an alien "other" for popular consumption, while Edgar Rice Burroughs in his Tarzan of the Apes series tapped into similar anxieties about the eruption of foreign elements into a homogeneous culture. Turning to the last decades of the twentieth century, Berglund considers how treatments of cannibalism variously perpetuated or subverted racist, sexist, and homophobic ideologies rooted in earlier times. Fannie Flagg's novel Fried Green Tomatoes invokes cannibalism to new effect, offering an explicit critique of racial, gender, and sexual politics (an element to a large extent suppressed in the movie adaptation). Recurring motifs in contemporary Native American writing suggest how Western expansion has, cannibalistically, laid the seeds of its own destruction. And James Dobson's recent efforts to link the pro-life agenda to allegations of cannibalism in China testify still further to the currency and pervasiveness of this powerful trope.
    By highlighting practices that preclude the many from becoming one, these representations of cannibalism, Berglund argues, call into question the comforting national narrative of e pluribus unum.
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Chaucer's (Anti-)Eroticisms and the Queer Middle Ages
Tison Pugh
The Ohio State University Press, 2014
Using queer theory to untangle all types of nonnormative sexual identities, Tison Pugh uses Chaucer’s work to expose the ongoing tension in the Middle Ages between an erotic culture that glorified love as an ennobling passion and an anti-erotic religious and philosophical tradition that denigrated love and (perhaps especially) its enactments. Chaucer’s (Anti-)Eroticisms and the Queer Middle Ages considers the many ways in which anti-eroticisms complicate the conventional image of Chaucer. With chapters addressing such topics as mutual masochism, homosocial brotherhood, necrotic erotics, queer families, and the eroticisms of Chaucer’s God, Chaucer’s (Anti-)Eroticisms will forever change the way readers see the Canterbury Tales and Chaucer’s other masterpieces.
 
For Chaucer, erotic pursuits establish the thrust and tenor of many of his narratives, as they also expose the frustrations inherent in pursuing desires frowned upon by the religious foundations of Western medieval culture. One cannot love freely within an ideological framework that polices sexuality and privileges the anti-erotic Christian ideals of virginity and chastity, yet loving queerly creates escapes from social structures inimical to amour and its expressions in the medieval period. Thus Chaucer is not just England’s foundational love poet, he is also England’s foundational queer poet.
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Chaucer’s Queer Nation
Glenn Burger
University of Minnesota Press, 2003
Looks at the ways social change is expressed through debates over identities and bodies. In bodies and selves, we can see politics, economics, and culture play out, and the tensions and crises of society made visible. The women's movement, lobbies for the elderly, pro-choice and pro-life movements, AIDS research and education, pedophilia and repressed memory, global sports spectacles, organ donor networks, campaigns for safe sex, chastity, or preventive medicine--all are aspects of the contemporary politics of bodies and identities touched on in this book. Three broad themes run through the collection: how the body is constructed in various ways for different purposes, how the electronic media and its uses shape selves and sensualities and contribute to civic discourse, and how global capitalism acts as a direct force in these processes. By taking a distinctly cross-cultural and comparative approach, this volume explores more fully than ever the political, economic, institutional, and cultural settings of corporeality, identity, and representation. Contributors: Antonella Fabri, Eva Illouz, Philip W. Jenks, Lauren Langman, Timothy W. Luke, Timothy McGettigan, Margaret J. Tally.
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Chaucer's Sexual Poetics
Carolyn Dinshaw
University of Wisconsin Press, 1990

Through an analysis of the poems Chaucers wordes Unto Adam, His Owne Scriveyn, Troilus and Criseyde, the Legend of Good Women, the Man of Law’s Tale, the Wife of Bath’s Tale and its Prologue, the Clerk’s Tale, and the Pardoner’s Tale, Carolyn Dinshaw offers a provocative argument on medieval sexual constructs and Chaucer’s role in shaping them. Operating under the assumption that people read and write certain ways based upon society’s demands, Dinshaw examines gender identity and the effects of a patriarchal society. The focal point of Dinshaw’s argument is the idea that the literary text can be seen as the female body while any literary activities upon the text are decidedly male. Through a series of six provocative essays, Dinshaw argues that Chaucer was not only aware that gender is a social construction, but that he self-consciously worked to oppose the dominance of masculinity that a patriarchal society places on texts by creating works in which gender identity and hierarchy were more fluid.

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Closet Devotions
Richard Rambuss
Duke University Press, 1998
Religion and sex, body and soul, sacred and profane: In Closet Devotions, Richard Rambuss traces the relays between these cultural formations by examining the issue of “sacred eroticism,” the literary or artistic expression of devotional feelings in erotic terms that has repeatedly occurred over the centuries. Rather than dismissing such expression as mere convention, Rambuss takes it seriously as a form of erotic discourse, one that gives voice to desires that, outside the sphere of sacred rapture, would otherwise be deemed taboo.
Through startling rereadings of works ranging from the devotional verse of the metaphysical poets (Donne, Herbert, Crashaw, and Traherne) to photographer Andres Serrano’s controversial “Piss Christ,” from Renaissance religious iconography to contemporary gay porn, Rambuss uncovers the highly charged erotic imagery that suffuses religious devotional art and literature. And he explores one of Christian culture’s most guarded (and literal) closets—the prayer closet itself, a privileged space where the vectors of same-sex desire can travel privately between the worshiper and his or her God.
Elegantly written and theoretically astute, Closet Devotions illuminates the ways in which sacred Christian devotion is homoeroticized, a phenomenon that until now has gone unexplored in current scholarship on religion, the body, and its passions. This book will attract readers across a wide array of disciplines, including gay and lesbian studies, literary theory and criticism, Renaissance studies, and religion.


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The Color of Sex
Whiteness, Heterosexuality, and the Fictions of White Supremacy
Mason Stokes
Duke University Press, 2001
In The Color of Sex Mason Stokes offers new ways of thinking about whiteness by exploring its surprisingly ambivalent partnership with heterosexuality. Stokes examines a wide range of white-supremacist American texts written and produced between 1852 and 1915—literary romances, dime novels, religious and scientific tracts, film—and exposes whiteness as a tangled network of racial and sexual desire. Stokes locates these white-supremacist texts amid the anti-racist efforts of African American writers and activists, deepening our understanding of both American and African American literary and cultural history.
The Color of Sex reveals what happens when race and sexuality meet, when white desire encounters its own ambivalence. As Stokes argues, whiteness and heterosexuality exist in anxious relation to one another. Mutually invested in “the normal,” they support each other in their desperate insistence on the cultural logic of exclusion. At the same time, however, they threaten one another in their attempt to create and sustain a white future, since reproducing whiteness necessarily involves the risk of contamination
Charting the curious movements of this “white heterosexuality,” The Color of Sex inaugurates a new moment in our ongoing attempt to understand the frenzied interplay of race and sexuality in America. As such, it will appeal to scholars interested in race theory, sexuality studies, and American history, culture, and literature.
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Concordia Discors
Eros and Dialogue in Classical Athenian Literature
Andrew Scholtz
Harvard University Press, 2007
Writing to a friend, Horace describes the man as fascinated by "the discordant harmony of the cosmos, its purpose and power." Andrew Scholtz takes this notion of "discordant harmony" and argues for it as an aesthetic principle where classical Athenian literature addresses politics in the idiom of sexual desire. His approach is an untried one for this kind of topic. Drawing on theorists of the sociality of language, Scholtz shows how eros, consuming, destabilizing desire, became a vehicle for exploring and exploiting dissonance within the songs Athenians sang about themselves. Thus he shows how societal tension and instability could register as an ideologically charged polyphony in works like the Periclean Funeral Oration, Aristophanes' Knights, and Xenophon's Symposium.
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Cosmopolitan Love
Utopian Vision in D. H. Lawrence and Eileen Chang
Sijia Yao
University of Michigan Press, 2023
Love, and the different manifestations of it, is a common theme in literature around the world. In Cosmopolitan Love, Sijia Yao examines the writings of D. H. Lawrence, a British writer whose literature focused primarily on interpersonal relationships in domestic settings, and Eileen Chang, a Chinese writer who migrated to the United States and explored Chinese heterosexual love in her writing. While comparing the writings of a Chinese writer and an English one, Yao avoids a direct comparison between East and West that could further enforce binaries. Instead, she uses the comparison to develop an idea of cosmopolitanism that shows how the writers are in conversation with their own culture and with each other. Both D. H. Lawrence and Eileen Chang wrote stories that are influenced by—but sometimes stand in opposition to—their own cultures. They offer alternative understandings of societies dealing with modernism and cultural globalization. Their stories deal with emotional pain caused by the restrictions of local politics and economics and address common themes of incestuous love, sexual love, adulterous love, and utopian love. By analyzing their writing, Yao demonstrates that the concept of love as a social and political force can cross cultural boundaries and traditions to become a basis for human meaning, the key to a cosmopolitan vision.
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A Cosmos of Desire
The Medieval Latin Erotic Lyric in English Manuscripts
Thomas C Moser, Jr.
University of Michigan Press, 2004

Thomas C. Moser, Jr. explores the fascinating body of medieval Latin erotic poetry found in English manuscripts. His study describes the intellectual and social context from which the great erotic songs of the twelfth century emerged, and examines a variety of erotic poems, from school exercises to the magnificent lyrics found in Arundel 384. He also illuminates the influence of neoplatonic philosophy on this poetry, explicating key neoplatonic texts and applying that analysis in close readings of erotic lyrics from the same period and milieu.
A Cosmos of Desire will interest scholars of medieval literature as well as specialists in Latin poetry and philosophy. Students of Middle English literature will find that it fills an important gap in our understanding of English intellectual life between the twelfth and the fourteenth century. All Latin prose and poetry is translated, some works for the first time, and the book is generously illustrated with photographs of the manuscripts discussed.
Thomas C. Moser, Jr. is Associate Professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park.
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Courtly Love, the Love of Courtliness, and the History of Sexuality
James A. Schultz
University of Chicago Press, 2006
One of the great achievements of the Middle Ages, Europe’s courtly culture gave the world the tournament, the festival, the knighting ceremony, and also courtly love. But courtly love has strangely been ignored by historians of sexuality. With Courtly Love, the Love of Courtliness, and the History of Sexuality, James Schultz corrects this oversight with careful analysis of key courtly texts of the medieval German literary tradition.
 
Courtly love, Schultz finds, was provoked not by the biological and intrinsic factors that play such a large role in our contemporary thinking about sexuality—sex difference or desire—but by extrinsic signs of class: bodies that were visibly noble and behaviors that represented exemplary courtliness. Individuals became “subjects” of courtly love only to the extent that their love took the shape of certain courtly roles such as singer, lady, or knight. They hoped not only for physical union but also for the social distinction that comes from realizing these roles to perfection. To an extraordinary extent, courtly love represented the love of courtliness—the eroticization of noble status and the courtly culture that celebrated noble power and refinement
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D H LAWRENCE
SELF AND SEXUALITY
JAMES C. COWAN
The Ohio State University Press, 2003

D. H. Lawrence: Self and Sexuality is a psychoanalytic study of D. H. Lawrence’s life and writings. James Cowan relies most notably the methods of Heinz Kohut, psychoanalytic “self psychology,” and employs as well the object relation theories of D. W. Winnicott and others. This work also examines sexual issues in Lawrence’s work from a literary and critical perspective, employing authoritative medical and psychoanalytic sources in human sexuality. Lawrence’s work, which was early read in traditional Freudian terms, has only recently been considered from other psychoanalytic perspectives. In this self psychological study, Cowan provides a new and path-breaking analysis of Lawrence.

Turning to several problematic issues of sexuality in Lawrence, the author first discusses a number of Lawrence’s sexual fallacies, and personal and cultural issues. Cowan also considers contrasting idealized and negative presentations of Mellors and Sir Clifford Chatterley in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and the theme of the “loss of desire” sequence of poems in Pansies.

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Dark Smiles
Race and Desire in George Eliot
Alicia Carroll
Ohio University Press, 2002

Although George Eliot has long been described as “the novelist of the Midlands,” she often brought the outer reaches of the empire home in her work. Dark Smiles: Race and Desire in George Eliot studies Eliot’s problematic, career-long interest in representing racial and ethnic Otherness.

Placing Eliot’s diverse and wide-ranging treatment of Otherness in its contemporary context, Alicia Carroll argues that Eliot both engages and resists traditional racial and ethnic representations of Otherness. Carroll finds that Eliot, like other women writers of her time, often appropriates narratives of Otherness to explore issues silenced in mainstream Victorian culture, particularly the problem of the desirous woman. But if Otherness in Eliot’s century was usually gendered as woman and constructed as the object of white male desire, Eliot often seeks to subvert that vision. Professor Carroll demonstrates Eliot’s tendency to “exoticize” images of girlhood, vocation, and maternity in order to critique and explore gendered subjectivities. Indeed, the disruptive presence of a racial or ethnic outsider often fractures Eliot’s narratives of community, creating a powerful critique of home culture.

The consistent reliance of Eliot’s work upon racial and ethnic Otherness as a mode of cultural critique is explored here for the first time in its entirety.

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The Deconstruction of Sex
Jean-Luc Nancy and Irving Goh
Duke University Press, 2021
In The Deconstruction of Sex, Jean-Luc Nancy and Irving Goh discuss how a deconstructive approach to sex helps us negotiate discourses about sex and foster a better understanding of how sex complicates our everyday existence in the age of #MeToo. Throughout their conversation, Nancy and Goh engage with topics ranging from relation, penetration, and subjection to touch, erotics, and jouissance. They show how despite its entrenchment in social norms and centrality to our being-in-the-world, sex lacks a clearly defined essence. At the same time, they point to the potentiality of literature to inscribe the senses of sex. In so doing, Nancy and Goh prompt us to reconsider our relations with ourselves and others through sex in more sensitive, respectful, and humble ways without bracketing the troubling aspects of sex.
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Desire and Fictional Narrative in Late Imperial China
Martin W. Huang
Harvard University Press, 2001

In this study of desire in Late Imperial China, Martin W. Huang argues that the development of traditional Chinese fiction as a narrative genre was closely related to changes in conceptions of the fundamental nature of desire. He further suggests that the rise of vernacular fiction during the late Ming dynasty should be studied in the context of contemporary debates on desire, along with the new and complex views that emerged from those debates.

Desire and Fictional Narrative in Late Imperial China shows that the obsession of authors with individual desire is an essential quality that defines traditional Chinese fiction as a narrative genre. Thus the maturation of the genre can best be appreciated in terms of its increasingly sophisticated exploration of the phenomenon of desire.

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Desire and Truth
Functions of Plot in Eighteenth-Century English Novels
Patricia Meyer Spacks
University of Chicago Press, 1990
Desire and Truth offers a major reassessment of the history of eighteenth-century fiction by showing how plot challenges or reinforces conventional categories of passion and rationality. Arguing that fiction creates and conveys its essential truths through plot, Patricia Meyer Spacks demonstrates that eighteenth-century fiction is both profoundly realistic and consistently daring.
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Discovering Sexuality in Dostoevsky
Susanne Fusso
Northwestern University Press, 2008
Most discussions of sexuality in the work of Dostoevsky have been framed in Freudian terms. But Dostoevsky himself wrote about sexuality from a decidedly pre-Freudian perspective. By looking at the views of human sexual development that were available in Dostoevsky's time and that he, an avid reader and observer of his own social context, absorbed and reacted to, Susanne Fusso gives us a new way of understanding a critical element in the writing of one of Russia's literary masters. Beyond discovering Dostoevsky's own views and representations of sexuality as a reflection of his culture and his time, Fusso also explores his artistic treatment of how children and adolescents discover sexuality as part of their growth.

Some of the topics Fusso considers are Dostoevsky's search for an appropriate artistic language for sexuality, a young narrator's experimentation with homoerotic desire and unconventional narrative in A Raw Youth; and Dostoevsky's approach to a young man's sexual development in A Raw Youth and The Brothers Karamazov. She also explores his complex treatment of a child's secret sexuality in his account of the Kroneberg child abuse case in A Writer's Diary; and his conception of the ideal family, a type of family that appears in his works mainly by negative example. Focusing mainly on sexual practices considered "deviant" in Dostoevsky's time--both because these are the practices that his young characters confront and because they offer the most intriguing interpretive problems--Fusso decodes the author's texts and their social contexts. In doing so, she highlights one thread in the intricate thematic weave of Dostoevsky's novels and newly illuminates his artistic process.
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Erotic Utopia
The Decadent Imagination in Russia's Fin de Siecle
Olga Matich
University of Wisconsin Press, 2007

The first generation of Russian modernists experienced a profound sense of anxiety resulting from the belief that they were living in an age of decline. What made them unique was their utopian prescription for overcoming the inevitability of decline and death both by metaphysical and physical means. They intertwined their mystical erotic discourse with European degeneration theory and its obsession with the destabilization of gender. In Erotic Utopia, Olga Matich suggests that same-sex desire underlay their most radical utopian proposal of abolishing the traditional procreative family in favor of erotically induced abstinence.

2006 Winner, CHOICE Award for Outstanding Academic Titles, Current Reviews for Academic Libraries
 
Honorable Mention, Aldo and Jean Scaglione Prize for Studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures, Modern Language Association

“Offers a fresh perspective and a wealth of new information on early Russian modernism. . . . It is required reading for anyone interested in fin-de-siècle Russia and in the history of sexuality in general.”—Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal, Slavic and East European Journal

“Thoroughly entertaining.”—Avril Pyman, Slavic Review
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Esteem Enlivened by Desire
The Couple from Homer to Shakespeare
Jean H. Hagstrum
University of Chicago Press, 1992
A magisterial book by one of our most distinguished literary historians, Esteem Enlivened by Desire illuminates (and celebrates) the ideal of lasting love from antiquity to the high Renaissance. Love that leads to marriage is a relatively recent "invention," or so critics and historians often say. But in this remarkable survey, Jean H. Hagstrum argues that long-term commitment formed of friendship and passion is one of Western culture's oldest and richest concepts.

Hagstrum looks mainly at depictions of love in art and literature, works of the imagination that reflect social reality but also often transcend it to challenge restrictive codes and open up new possibilities for human nature. Among these possibilities, the association of esteem with sexual desire is one of the most invigorating that artists and thinkers have ever addressed. Tracing this motif through many different kinds of expression—from the Homeric epics, the Oresteia, Augustine's Confessions to the stories of Ovid, the Decameron, the plays and sonnets of Shakespeare—Hagstrum also illuminates a number of related themes, including other forms of relationship, from friendship to lust; marriage for political ends; liaisons with the same sex; and the presence of passion in religious commitment.

The culmination of Hagstrum's long career, Esteem Enlivened by Desire offers generous insight into the amorous heritage of the West—and honors one of its most important, enduring, and hard-won achievements.
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Gender and Sexuality in Modern Ireland
Anthony Bradley
University of Massachusetts Press, 1997
This collection of stimulating essays focuses on issues of gender and sexuality in Irish history, biography, language, literature, and drama. While the contributors employ a variety of methodological and critical perspectives, they share the conviction that the gendering of Ireland--not only of the nation, but of actual Irish men and women--is a construction of culture and ideology and not simply one of nature.
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Getting Medieval
Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern
Carolyn Dinshaw
Duke University Press, 1999
In Getting Medieval Carolyn Dinshaw examines communities—dissident and orthodox—in late-fourteenth and early-fifteenth-century England to create a new sense of queer history. Reaching beyond both medieval and queer studies, Dinshaw demonstrates in this challenging work how intellectual inquiry into pre-modern societies can contribute invaluably to current issues in cultural studies. In the process, she makes important connections between past and present cultures that until now have not been realized.
In her pursuit of historical analyses that embrace the heterogeneity and indeterminacy of sex and sexuality, Dinshaw examines canonical Middle English texts such as the Canterbury Tales and The Book of Margery Kempe. She examines polemics around the religious dissidents known as the Lollards as well as accounts of prostitutes in London to address questions of how particular sexual practices and identifications were normalized while others were proscribed. By exploring contemporary (mis)appropriations of medieval tropes in texts ranging from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction to recent Congressional debates on U.S. cultural production, Dinshaw demonstrates how such modern media can serve to reinforce constrictive heteronormative values and deny the multifarious nature of history. Finally, she works with and against the theories of Michel Foucault, Homi K. Bhabha, Roland Barthes, and John Boswell to show how deconstructionist impulses as well as historical perspectives can further an understanding of community in both pre- and postmodern societies.
This long-anticipated volume will be indispensible to medieval and queer scholars and will be welcomed by a larger cultural studies audience.
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Heterosyncrasies
Female Sexuality When Normal Wasn’t
Karma Lochrie
University of Minnesota Press, 2005
In the early twentieth century, marriage manuals sought to link marital sex to the progress of civilization, searching for the history of what they considered to be normal sexuality. In Heterosyncrasies, Karma Lochrie looks to the foundation of modern society in the Middle Ages to undertake a profound questioning of the heterosexuality of that history. Lochrie begins this provocative rethinking of sexuality by dismantling the very idea of normal through a study of the development of statistics in the nineteenth century. She then intervenes in contemporary debates about queer versus ostensibly stable heterosexual social and sexual categories by exposing the "heterosyncratic" organization of sexuality in the Middle Ages and by clarifying the dubious contribution that the concept of normality has made to the construction of sexuality. In medieval texts from the letters of Heloise to Lollard heretical attacks on the Church, to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, medical discourse surrounding the clitoris, and finally the Amazons of medieval myth, Lochrie focuses on female sexuality in the Middle Ages in an effort to discern a less binary, more diversified understanding of it. Lochrie demonstrates how the medieval categories of natural and unnatural were distinctly different from our modern categories of normal and abnormal. In her work we see how abandoning heteronormativity as a medieval organizer of sexualities profoundly changes the way we understand all sexualities - past, present, and possibly even future. Heterosyncrasies is a milestone in the study of sexual identity politics, revealing not only how presumptions of normality obscure our understanding of the past, but also how these beliefs affect our present-day laws, society, and daily life.
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Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare's England
A Cultural Poetics
Bruce R. Smith
University of Chicago Press, 1994
In the most comprehensive study yet of homosexuality in the English Renaissance, Bruce R. Smith examines and rejects the assessments of homosexual acts in moral philosophy, laws, and medical books in favor of a poetics of homosexual desire. Smith isolates six different "myths" from classical literature and discusses each in relation to a particular Renaissance literary genre and to a particular part of the social structure of early modern England. Smith's new Preface places his work in the context of the continuing controversies in gay, lesbian, and bisexual studies.

"The best single analysis of the homoerotic element in Renaissance English literature."—Keith Thomas, New York Review of Books

"Smith's lucid and subtle book offer[s] a poetics of homosexual desire. . . . Its scholarship, impressively broad and deftly deployed, aims to further a serious social purpose: the redemptive location of homosexual desire in history and the recuperation for our own time, through an understanding of its discursive embodiments, of that desire's changing imperatives and parameters."—Terence Hawkes, Times Literary Supplement

"The great strength of Bruce Smith's book is that it does not sidestep the complex challenge of engaging in the sexual politics of the present while attending to the resistant discourses and practices of Renaissance England. Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare's England demonstrates how a commitment to the present opens up our understanding of the past."—Peter Stallybrass, Shakespeare Quarterly

"A major contribution to the understanding of homosexuality in Renaissance England and by far the best and most comprehensive account yet offered of the homoeroticism that suffuses Renaissance literature."—Claude J. Summers, Journal of Homosexuality
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Imperial Bibles, Domestic Bodies
Women, Sexuality, and Religion in the Victorian Market
Mary Wilson Carpenter
Ohio University Press, 2003

Of the many literary phenomena that sprang up in eighteenth-century England and later became a staple of Victorian culture, one that has received little attention until now is the “Family Bible with Notes.” Published in serial parts to make it affordable, the Family Bible was designed to enhance the family’s status and sense of national and imperial identity.

Imperial Bibles, Domestic Bodies reveals in its study of the production and consumption of British commercial Family Bibles startling changes in “family values.” Advertised in the eighteenth century as providing the family with access to “universal knowledge,” these Bibles suddenly shifted in the early nineteenth century to Bibles with bracketed sections marked “to be omitted from family reading” and reserved for reading “in the closet” by the “Master of the family.” These disciplinary Bibles were paralleled by Family Bibles designed to appeal to the newly important female consumer. Illustrations featured saintly women and charming children, and “family registers” with vignettes of family life emphasized the prominent role of the “angel in the house.”

As Mary Wilson Carpenter documents in Imperial Bibles, Domestic Bodies, the elaborate notes and “elegant engravings” in these Bibles bring to light a wealth of detail about the English commonsense view of such taboo subjects as same-sex relations, masturbation, menstruation, and circumcision. Her reading of literary texts by Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning in the context of these commercial representations of the “Authorized Version” or King James translation of the Bible indicates that when the Victorians spoke about religion, they were also frequently speaking about sex.

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Imperial Desire
Dissident Sexualities And Colonial Literature
Philip Holden
University of Minnesota Press, 2003
Illuminates the intersections between colonial thought and homosexuality. An exploration of the intersection of colonialism and homosexuality in fiction and travel writing from Robinson Crusoe to the present, this volume brings together two dynamic fields of academic inquiry: colonial discourse analysis, which considers literary texts as expressions of colonial power; and queer theory, which interrogates the representation, enforcement, and subversions of sexualities in literature and culture. These writers reexamine the work of Kipling, Conrad, Forster, Lessing, and others, ranging from male adventure stories to postcolonial novels. This volume will provoke and inform readers concerned with gender and sexuality, colonial history and literature, or with any of the works and authors revisited-and reexperienced-here. Contributors: Anjali Arondekar, John C. Beynon, Joseph A. Boone, Sarah Cole, Lois Cucullu, Maria Davidis, Dennis Denisoff, Mark Forrester, Terry Goldie, Christopher Lane, Tim Middleton, Hans Turley. Philip Holden is assistant professor of English at the National University of Singapore. Richard J. Ruppel is professor and chair in the Department of English at Viterbo University.
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Intricate Relations
Sexual and Economic Desire in American Fiction, 1789-1814
Karen A. Weyler
University of Iowa Press, 2005

Intricate Relations charts the development of the novel in and beyond the early republic in relation to these two thematic and intricately connected centers: sexuality and economics. By reading fiction written by Americans between 1789 and 1814 alongside medical theory, political and economic tracts, and pedagogical literature of all kinds, Karen Weyler recreates and illuminates the larger, sometimes opaque, cultural context in which novels were written, published, and read.

In 1799, the novelist Charles Brockden Brown used the evocative phrase “intricate relations” to describe the complex imbrication of sexual and economic relations in the early republic. Exploring these relationships, he argued, is the chief job of the “moral historian,” a label that most novelists of the era embraced. In a republic anxious about burgeoning individualism in the 1790s and the first two decades of the nineteenth century, the novel foregrounded sexual and economic desires and explored ways to regulate the manner in which they were expressed and gratified.

In Intricate Relations, Weyler argues that understanding how these issues underlie the novel as a genre is fundamental to understanding both the novels themselves and their role in American literary culture. Situating fiction amid other popular genres illuminates how novelists such as Charles Brockden Brown, Hannah Foster, Samuel Relf, Susanna Rowson, Rebecca Rush, and Sally Wood synthesized and iterated many of the concerns expressed in other forms of public discourse, a strategy that helped legitimate their chosen genre and make it a viable venue for discussion in the decades following the revolution.

Weyler’s passionate and persuasive study offers new insights into the civic role of fiction in the early republic and will be of great interest to literary theorists and scholars in women’s and American studies.

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Joyce/Foucault
Sexual Confessions
Wolfgang Streit
University of Michigan Press, 2004
Sheds new light on James Joyce's use of sexual motifs as cultural raw material for Ulysses and other works

Joyce/Foucault: Sexual Confessions examines instances of sexual confession in works of James Joyce, with a special emphasis on Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses. Using Michel Foucault's historical analysis of Western sexuality as its theoretical underpinning, the book foregrounds the role of the Jesuit order in the spread of a confessional force, and finds this influence inscribed into Joyce's major texts. Wolfgang Streit goes on to argue that the tension between the texts' erotic passages and Joyce's criticism of even his own sexual writing energizes Joyce's narratives-and enables Joyce to develop the radical skepticism of power revealed in his work.

Wolfgang Streit is Lecturer, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich.


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Libidinal Currents
Sexuality and the Shaping of Modernism
Joseph Allen Boone
University of Chicago Press, 1997
From Kate Chopin and Virginia Woolf to William Faulkner and Doris Lessing, modern fiction surges with libidinal currents. The most powerful of these fictions are not merely about sex; rather, they attempt to incorporate the workings of eros into their narrative forms. In doing so, Joseph Allen Boone argues, these modern fictions of sexuality create a politics and poetics of the perverse with the power to transform how we think about and read modernism.

Challenging overarching theories of the novel by carefully mapping the historical contexts that have influenced modern experimental narratives, Boone constructs a model for interpreting sexuality that reaches from Freud's theory of the libidinal instincts to Foucault's theory of sexual discourse. The most ambitious study yet written on the links between literary modernity and the psychology of sex, Boone's Libidinal Currents will be a landmark book in the study of modernist fiction, gay studies/queer theory, feminist criticism, and studies in sexuality and gender.
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Like a Captive Bird
Gender and Virtue in Plutarch
Lunette Warren
Lever Press, 2023

The full extent of Plutarch’s moral educational program remains largely understudied, at least in those aspects pertaining to women and the gendered other. As a result, scholarship on his views on women have differed significantly in their conclusions, with some scholars suggesting that he is overwhelmingly positive towards women and marriage and perhaps even a “precursor to feminism,”  and others arguing that he was rather negative on the issue. Like a Captive Bird: Gender and Virtue in Plutarch is an examination of these educational methods employed in Plutarch’s work to regulate the expression of gender identity in women and men. In six chapters, author Lunette Warren analyzes Plutarch’s ideas about women and gender in Moralia and Lives. The book examines the divergences between real and ideal, the aims and methods of moral philosophy and psychagogic practice as they relate to identity formation, and Plutarch’s theoretical philosophy and metaphysics. 

Warren argues that gender is a flexible mode of being that expresses a relation between body and soul, and that gender and virtue are inextricably entwined. Plutarch’s expression of gender is also an expression of a moral condition that signifies relationships of power, Warren claims, especially power relationships between the husband and wife. Uncovered in these texts is evidence of a redistribution of power, which allows some women to dominate other women and, in rare cases, men too. Like a Captive Bird offers a unique and fresh interpretation of Plutarch’s metaphysics which centers gender as one of the organizational principles of nature. It is aimed at scholars of Plutarch, ancient philosophy, and ancient gender studies, especially those who are interested in feminist studies of antiquity.

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Love and Sex in the Time of Plague
A Decameron Renaissance
Guido Ruggiero
Harvard University Press, 2021

As a pandemic swept across fourteenth-century Europe, the Decameron offered the ill and grieving a symphony of life and love.

For Florentines, the world seemed to be coming to an end. In 1348 the first wave of the Black Death swept across the Italian city, reducing its population from more than 100,000 to less than 40,000. The disease would eventually kill at least half of the population of Europe. Amid the devastation, Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron was born. One of the masterpieces of world literature, the Decameron has captivated centuries of readers with its vivid tales of love, loyalty, betrayal, and sex. Despite the death that overwhelmed Florence, Boccaccio’s collection of novelle was, in Guido Ruggiero’s words, a “symphony of life.”

Love and Sex in the Time of Plague guides twenty-first-century readers back to Boccaccio’s world to recapture how his work sounded to fourteenth-century ears. Through insightful discussions of the Decameron’s cherished stories and deep portraits of Florentine culture, Ruggiero explores love and sexual relations in a society undergoing convulsive change. In the century before the plague arrived, Florence had become one of the richest and most powerful cities in Europe. With the medieval nobility in decline, a new polity was emerging, driven by Il Popolo—the people, fractious and enterprising. Boccaccio’s stories had a special resonance in this age of upheaval, as Florentines sought new notions of truth and virtue to meet both the despair and the possibility of the moment.

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Lusosex
Gender And Sexuality In The Portuguese-Speaking World
Susan Canty Quinlan
University of Minnesota Press, 2002

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Male Fantasies
Volume 1: Women Floods Bodies History
Klaus Theweleit
University of Minnesota Press, 1987

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Male Fantasies
Volume 2: Male Bodies: Psychoanalyzing the White Terror
Klaus Theweleit
University of Minnesota Press, 1989

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Male Sexuality under Surveillance
Office In American Literature
Graham Thompson
University of Iowa Press, 2003
Male Sexuality under Surveillance is a lively, intelligent, and expertly argued analysis of the construction of male sexuality in the business office. Graham Thompson interweaves three main threads: a historicized cultural analysis of the development of the modern business office from its beginnings in the early nineteenth century to the present day, a Foucauldian discussion of the office as the site of various disciplinary practices, and a queer-theoretical discussion of the textualization of the gay male body as a device for producing a taxonomy of male-male relations. The combination of these themes produces a study that is fresh, insightful, and provocative.
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Misers, Shrews, and Polygamists
Sexuality and Male-Female Relations in Eighteenth-Century Chinese Fiction
Keith McMahon
Duke University Press, 1995
Having multiple wives was one of the mainstays of male privilege during the Ming and Qing dynasties of late imperial China. Based on a comprehensive reading of eighteenth-century Chinese novels and a theoretical approach grounded in poststructuralist, psychoanalytic, and feminist criticism, Misers, Shrews, and Polygamists examines how such privilege functions in these novels and provides the first full account of literary representations of sexuality and gender in pre-modern China.
In many examples of rare erotic fiction, and in other works as well-known as Dream of the Red Chamber, Keith McMahon identifies a sexual economy defined by the figures of the "miser" and the "shrew"—caricatures of the retentive, self-containing man and the overflowing, male-enervating woman. Among these and other characters, the author explores the issues surrounding the practice of polygamy, the logic of its overvaluation of masculinity, and the nature of sexuality generally in Chinese society. How does the man with many wives manage and justify his sexual authority? Why and how might he escape or limit this presumed authority, sometimes to the point of portraying himself as abject before the shrewish woman? How do women accommodate or coddle the man, or else oppose, undermine, or remold him? And in what sense does the man place himself lower than the spiritually and morally superior woman?
The most extensive English-language study of Chinese literature from the eighteenth century, this examination of polygamy will interest not only students of Chinese history, culture, and literature but also all those concerned with histories of gender and sexuality.
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The Misfit of the Family
Balzac and the Social Forms of Sexuality
Michael Lucey
Duke University Press, 2003
In more than ninety novels and novellas, Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850) created a universe teeming with over two thousand characters. The Misfit of the Family reveals how Balzac, in imagining the dense, vividly rendered social world of his novels, used his writing as a powerful means to understand and analyze—as well as represent—a range of forms of sexuality. Moving away from the many psychoanalytic approaches to the novelist's work, Michael Lucey contends that in order to grasp the full complexity with which sexuality was understood by Balzac, it is necessary to appreciate how he conceived of its relation to family, history, economics, law, and all the many structures within which sexualities take form.

The Misfit of the Family is a compelling argument that Balzac must be taken seriously as a major inventor and purveyor of new tools for analyzing connections between the sexual and the social. Lucey’s account of the novelist’s deployment of "sexual misfits" to impel a wide range of his most canonical works—Cousin Pons, Cousin Bette, Eugenie Grandet, Lost Illusions, The Girl with the Golden Eyes—demonstrates how even the flexible umbrella term "queer" barely covers the enormous diversity of erotic and social behaviors of his characters. Lucey draws on the thinking of Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu and engages the work of critics of nineteenth-century French fiction, including Naomi Schor, D. A. Miller, Franco Moretti, and others. His reflections on Proust as Balzac’s most cannily attentive reader suggest how the lines of social and erotic force he locates in Balzac’s work continued to manifest themselves in twentieth-century writing and society.

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New World Courtships
Transatlantic Alternatives to Companionate Marriage
Melissa M. Adams-Campbell
Dartmouth College Press, 2015
Feminist literary critics have long recognized that the novel’s marriage plot can shape the lives of women readers; however, they have largely traced the effects of this influence through a monolithic understanding of marriage. New World Courtships is the first scholarly study to recover a geographically diverse array of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novels that actively compare marriage practices from the Atlantic world. These texts trouble Enlightenment claims that companionate marriage leads to women’s progress by comparing alternative systems for arranging marriage and sexual relations in the Americas. Attending to representations of marital diversity in early transatlantic novels disrupts nation-based accounts of the rise of the novel and its relation to “the” marriage plot. It also illuminates how and why cultural differences in marriage mattered in the Atlantic world—and shows how these differences might help us to reimagine marital diversity today. This book will appeal to scholars of literature, women’s studies, and early American history.
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Next to the Color Line
Gender, Sexuality, and W. E. B. Du Bois
Susan Gillman
University of Minnesota Press, 2007
Although W. E. B. Du Bois did not often pursue the connections between the “Negro question” that defined so much of his intellectual life and the “woman question” that engaged writers and feminist activists around him, Next to the Color Line argues that within Du Bois’s work is a politics of juxtaposition that connects race, gender, sexuality, and justice.This provocative collection investigates a set of political formulations and rhetorical strategies by which Du Bois approached, used, and repressed issues of gender and sexuality. The essays in Next to the Color Line propose a return to Du Bois, not only to reassess his politics but also to demonstrate his relevance for today’s scholarly and political concerns.Contributors: Hazel V. Carby, Yale U; Vilashini Cooppan, U of California, Santa Cruz; Brent Hayes Edwards, Rutgers U; Michele Elam, Stanford U; Roderick A. Ferguson, U of Minnesota; Joy James, Williams College; Fred Moten, U of Southern California; Shawn Michelle Smith, St. Louis U; Mason Stokes, Skidmore College; Claudia Tate, Princeton U; Paul C. Taylor, Temple U.Susan Gillman is professor of literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Alys Eve Weinbaum is associate professor of English at the University of Washington, Seattle.
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Novel Bodies
Disability and Sexuality in Eighteenth-Century British Literature
Jason S. Farr
Bucknell University Press, 2019
Novel Bodies examines how disability shapes the British literary history of sexuality. Jason Farr shows that various eighteenth-century novelists represent disability and sexuality in flexible ways to reconfigure the political and social landscapes of eighteenth-century Britain. In imagining the lived experience of disability as analogous to—and as informed by—queer genders and sexualities, the authors featured in Novel Bodies expose emerging ideas of able-bodiedness and heterosexuality as interconnected systems that sustain dominant models of courtship, reproduction, and degeneracy. Further, Farr argues that they use intersections of disability and queerness to stage an array of contemporaneous debates covering topics as wide-ranging as education, feminism, domesticity, medicine, and plantation life. In his close attention to the fiction of Eliza Haywood, Samuel Richardson, Sarah Scott, Maria Edgeworth, and Frances Burney, Farr demonstrates that disabled and queer characters inhabit strict social orders in unconventional ways, and thus opened up new avenues of expression for readers from the eighteenth century forward.


Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
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Obscene Things
Sexual Politics in Jin Ping Mei
Naifei Ding
Duke University Press, 2002
In Obscene Things Naifei Ding intervenes in conventional readings of Jin Ping Mei, an early scandalous Chinese novel of sexuality and sexual culture. After first appearing around 1590, Jin Ping Mei was circulated among some of China’s best known writers of the time and subsequently was published in three major recensions. A 1695 version by Zhang Zhupo became the most widely read and it is this text in particular on which Ding focuses. Challenging the preconceptions of earlier scholarship, she highlights the fundamental misogyny inherent in Jin Ping Mei and demonstrates how traditional biases—particularly masculine biases—continue to inform the concerns of modern criticism and sexual politics.
The story of a seductive bondmaid-concubine, sexual opportunism, domestic intrigue, adultery and death, Jin Ping Mei has often been critiqued based on the coherence of the text itself. Concentrating instead on the processes of reading and on the social meaning of this novel, Ding looks at the various ways the tale has been received since its first dissemination, particularly by critiquing the interpretations offered by seventeenth-century Ming literati and by twentieth-century scholars. Confronting the gender politics of this “pornographic” text, she troubles the boundaries between premodern and modern readings by engaging residual and emergent Chinese gender and hierarchic ideologies.
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Of Giants
Sex, Monsters, And The Middle Ages
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen
University of Minnesota Press, 1999

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Performing Identities on the Restoration Stage
Cynthia Lowenthal
Southern Illinois University Press, 2002

In Performing Identities on the Restoration Stage, Cynthia Lowenthal explores identity—especially masculinity and femininity, English and “foreign,” middle-class and aristocratic—as it is enacted, idealized, deployed, and redefined on the late-seventeenth-century British stage. Particular emphasis is placed on the ways the theatre contributed to new and often shifting early modern definitions of the boundaries of nation, status, and gender.

The first portion of the book focuses on the playwrights’ presentations of idealized men and the comic ridicule of male bodies and behaviors that fall short of the ideal. Of special interest are those moments when playwrights use stereotypes of national character, particularly the Spaniards and Turks, as examples of the worst in male behavior, judgments that are always inflected with elements of class or status inconsistency.

The second portion of Lowenthal’s discussion focuses on playwrights’ attempts to redefine the idealized woman. Lowenthal investigates the ways that an extratheatrical discourse surrounding the actresses, one that essentialized them as sexual bodies demanding scrutiny and requiring containment, also serves to secure for them an equally essential aristocratic status. Anchored by Manley’s Royal Mischief, Lowenthal’s reading reveals that even a woman playwright’s attempts to represent female subjectivity or interiority at odds with the surfaces of the body are doomed to return to those same surfaces.

By focusing on a new, early modern lability of identity and by reading less canonical women playwrights, such as Manley and Pix, alongside established male playwrights such as Dryden and Wycherley, Performing Identities on the Restoration Stage yields both a more accurate and a more compelling picture of the cultural dynamics at work on the early modern stage.

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Playing Dirty
Sexuality and Waste in Early Modern Comedy
Will Stockton
University of Minnesota Press, 2010
Playing Dirty is full of dirty jokes. Arguing that the early modern excremental body is in many ways an erotic body, Will Stockton—with humor and dry wit—reads psychoanalytic theory through early modern comedies, claiming that it is helpful, rather than inimical, to the project of historicizing the body.

Noting that psychoanalysis has traditionally operated in a paranoid framework that relentlessly produces evidence of the same “truths,” Stockton turns to a minority practice in psychoanalysis—associated with Jean Laplanche—to develop a more “playful” analytic for literary studies. This analytic brings together different discourses of sexuality and the body and allows individual writings to reform psychoanalytic wisdom about sexuality, waste, and comedy. Through original explorations of works by William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Sir John Harington, Thomas Nashe, and Geoffrey Chaucer, Stockton further encourages the reconciliation of psychoanalysis and queer historicism. He focuses in large part on the less-often-read texts of the early modern English canon, assessing the ways in which these books have been purged from the canon in the name of generic purity.

Playing Dirty builds on recent calls by Renaissance and medieval queer scholars for a method of literary analysis that is less constrained by the boundaries of periodicity and the supposed exigencies of historicism. To take Playing Dirty seriously is to accept its invitation to “play”—to queerly disrupt the modern divide in moving promiscuously between texts past and present.
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Pornography, the Theory
What Utilitarianism Did to Action
Frances Ferguson
University of Chicago Press, 2004
Pornography first developed in western Europe during the late eighteenth century in tandem with the rise of utilitarianism, the philosophical position that stresses the importance of something's usefulness over its essence. Through incisive readings of Sade, Flaubert, Lawrence, and Bret Easton Ellis, Frances Ferguson here shows how pornography—like utilitarian social structures—diverts our attention from individual identities to actions and renders more clearly the social value of such actions through concrete literary representations.
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Private Lives, Proper Relations
Regulating Black Intimacy
Candice M. Jenkins
University of Minnesota Press, 2007

Private Lives, Proper Relations begins with the question of why contemporary African American literature—particularly that produced by black women—is continually concerned with issues of respectability and propriety. Candice M. Jenkins argues that this preoccupation has its origins in recurrent ideologies about African American sexuality, and that it expresses a fundamental aspect of the racial self—an often unarticulated link between the intimate and the political in black culture.

In a counterpoint to her paradigmatic reading of Nella Larsen’s Passing, Jenkins’s analysis of black women’s narratives—including Ann Petry’s The Street, Toni Morrison’s Sula and Paradise, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, and Gayl Jones’s Eva’s Man—offers a theory of black subjectivity. Here Jenkins describes middle-class attempts to rescue the black community from accusations of sexual and domestic deviance by embracing bourgeois respectability, and asserts that behind those efforts there is the “doubled vulnerability” of the black intimate subject. Rather than reflecting a DuBoisian tension between race and nation, to Jenkins this vulnerability signifies for the African American an opposition between two poles of potential exposure: racial scrutiny and the proximity of human intimacy. 

Scholars of African American culture acknowledge that intimacy and sexuality are taboo subjects among African Americans precisely because black intimate character has been pathologized. Private Lives, Proper Relations is a powerful contribution to the crucial effort to end the distortion still surrounding black intimacy in the United States.

Candice M. Jenkins is associate professor of English at Hunter College, City University o

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Queer Forster
Edited by Robert K. Martin and George Piggford
University of Chicago Press, 1997
This groundbreaking volume presents a radical revision of gay criticism and focuses on E. M. Forster's place in the emerging field of queer studies.

Many previous critics of Forster downplayed his homosexuality or read Forster naively in terms of gay liberation. This collection situates Forster within the Bloomsbury Group and examines his relations to major figures such as Henry James, Edward Carpenter, and Virginia Woolf. Particular attention is paid to Forster's several accounts of India and their troubled relation to the British colonial enterprise. Analyzing a wide range of Forster's work, the authors examine material from Forster's undergraduate writings to stories written more than a half-century later.

A landmark book for the study of gender in literature, Queer Forster brings the terms "queer" and "gay" into conversation, opening up a dialogue on wider dimensions of theory and allowing a major revaluation of modernist inventions of sexual identity.
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Queer Gothic
George E. Haggerty
University of Illinois Press, 2000

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Queer Iberia
Sexualities, Cultures, and Crossings from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance
Josiah Blackmore and Gregory S. Hutcheson, eds.
Duke University Press, 1999
Martyred saints, Moors, Jews, viragoes, hermaphrodites, sodomites, kings, queens, and cross-dressers comprise the fascinating mosaic of historical and imaginative figures unearthed in Queer Iberia. The essays in this volume describe and analyze the sexual diversity that proliferated during the period between the tenth and the sixteenth centuries when political hegemony in the region passed from Muslim to Christian hands.
To show how sexual otherness is most evident at points of cultural conflict, the contributors use a variety of methodologies and perspectives and consider source materials that originated in Castilian, Latin, Arabic, Catalan, and Galician-Portuguese. Covering topics from the martydom of Pelagius to the exploits of the transgendered Catalina de Erauso, this volume is the first to provide a comprehensive historical examination of the relations among race, gender, sexuality, nation-building, colonialism, and imperial expansion in medieval and early modern Iberia. Some essays consider archival evidence of sexual otherness or evaluate the use of “deviance” as a marker for cultural and racial difference, while others explore both male and female homoeroticism as literary-aesthetic discourse or attempt to open up canonical texts to alternative readings.
Positing a queerness intrinsic to Iberia’s historical process and cultural identity, Queer Iberia will challenge the field of Iberian studies while appealing to scholars of medieval, cultural, Hispanic, gender, and gay and lesbian studies.

Contributors. Josiah Blackmore, Linde M. Brocato, Catherine Brown, Israel Burshatin, Daniel Eisenberg, E. Michael Gerli, Roberto J. González-Casanovas, Gregory S. Hutcheson, Mark D. Jordan, Sara Lipton, Benjamin Liu, Mary Elizabeth Perry, Michael Solomon, Louise O. Vasvári, Barbara Weissberger

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Rape Of Clarissa
Writing, Sexuality, and Class Struggle in Samuel Richardson
Terry Eagleton
University of Minnesota Press, 1982

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Reading Chican@ Like a Queer
The De-Mastery of Desire
By Sandra K. Soto
University of Texas Press, 2010

A race-based oppositional paradigm has informed Chicano studies since its emergence. In this work, Sandra K. Soto replaces that paradigm with a less didactic, more flexible framework geared for a queer analysis of the discursive relationship between racialization and sexuality. Through rereadings of a diverse range of widely discussed writers—from Américo Paredes to Cherríe Moraga—Soto demonstrates that representations of racialization actually depend on the sexual and that a racialized sexuality is a heretofore unrecognized organizing principle of Chican@ literature, even in the most unlikely texts. Soto gives us a broader and deeper engagement with Chican@ representations of racialization, desire, and both inter- and intracultural social relations.

While several scholars have begun to take sexuality seriously by invoking the rich terrain of contemporary Chicana feminist literature for its portrayal of culturally specific and historically laden gender and sexual frameworks, as well as for its imaginative transgressions against them, this is the first study to theorize racialized sexuality as pervasive to and enabling of the canon of Chican@ literature. Exemplifying the broad usefulness of queer theory by extending its critical tools and anti-heteronormative insights to racialization, Soto stages a crucial intervention amid a certain loss of optimism that circulates both as a fear that queer theory was a fad whose time has passed, and that queer theory is incapable of offering an incisive, politically grounded analysis in and of the current historical moment.

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The Reinvention of Obscenity
Sex, Lies, and Tabloids in Early Modern France
Joan DeJean
University of Chicago Press, 2002
The concept of obscenity is an ancient one. But as Joan DeJean suggests, its modern form, the same version that today's politicians decry and savvy artists exploit, was invented in seventeenth-century France.

The Reinvention of Obscenity casts a fresh light on the mythical link between sexual impropriety and things French. Exploring the complicity between censorship, print culture, and obscenity, DeJean argues that mass market printing and the first modern censorial machinery came into being at the very moment that obscenity was being reinvented—that is, transformed from a minor literary phenomenon into a threat to society. DeJean's principal case in this study is the career of Moliére, who cannily exploited the new link between indecency and female genitalia to found his career as a print author; the enormous scandal which followed his play L'école des femmes made him the first modern writer to have his sex life dissected in the press.

Keenly alert to parallels with the currency of obscenity in contemporary America, The Reinvention of Obscenity will concern not only scholars of French history, but anyone interested in the intertwined histories of sex, publishing, and censorship.
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Sapphic Primitivism
Productions of Race, Class, and Sexuality in Key Works of Modern Fiction
Hackett, Robin
Rutgers University Press, 2003

In this book, Robin Hackett examines portrayals of race, class, and sexuality in modernist texts by white women to argue for the existence of a literary device that she calls “Sapphic primitivism.” The works vary widely in their form and content and include Olive Schreiner’s proto-modernist exploration of New Womanhood, The Story of an African Farm; Virginia Woolf’s high modernist “play-poem,” The Waves; Sylvia Townsend Warner’s historical novel, Summer Will Show; and Willa Cather’s Southern pastoral, Sapphira and the Slave Girl. In each, blackness and working-class culture are figured to represent sexual autonomy, including lesbianism, for white women. Sapphic primitivism exposes the ways several classes of identification were intertwined with the development of homosexual identities at the turn of the century. Sapphic primitivism is not, however, a means of disguising lesbian content. Rather, it is an aesthetic displacement device that simultaneously exposes lesbianism and exploits modern, primitivist modes of self-representation. Hackett’s revelations of the mutual interests of those who study early twentieth-century constructions of race and sexuality and twenty-first-century feminists doing anti-racist and queer work are a major contribution to literary studies and identity theory.

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Sappho in Early Modern England
Female Same-Sex Literary Erotics, 1550-1714
Harriette Andreadis
University of Chicago Press, 2001
In Sappho in Early Modern England, Harriette Andreadis examines public and private expressions of female same-sex sexuality in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. Before the language of modern sexual identities developed, a variety of discourses in both literary and extraliterary texts began to form a lexicon of female intimacy. Looking at accounts of non-normative female sexualities in travel narratives, anatomies, and even marital advice books, Andreadis outlines the vernacular through which a female same-sex erotics first entered verbal consciousness. She finds that "respectable" women of the middle classes and aristocracy who did not wish to identify themselves as sexually transgressive developed new vocabularies to describe their desires; women that we might call bisexual or lesbian, referred to in their day as tribades, fricatrices, or "rubsters," emerged in erotic discourses that allowed them to acknowledge their sexuality and still evade disapproval.
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Sappho Is Burning
Page duBois
University of Chicago Press, 1995
To know all we know about Sappho is to know little. Her poetry, dating from the seventh century B.C.E., comes to us in fragments, her biography as speculation. How is it then, Page duBois asks, that this poet has come to signify so much? Sappho Is Burning offers a new reading of this archaic lesbian poet that acknowledges the poet's distance and difference from us and stresses Sappho's inassimilability into our narratives about the Greeks, literary history, philosophy, the history of sexuality, the psychoanalytic subject.

In Sappho is Burning, duBois reads Sappho as a disruptive figure at the very origin of our story of Western civilization. Sappho is beyond contemporary categories, inhabiting a space outside of reductively linear accounts of our common history. She is a woman, but also an aristocrat, a Greek, but one turned toward Asia, a poet who writes as a philosopher before philosophy, a writer who speaks of sexuality that can be identified neither with Michel Foucault's account of Greek sexuality, nor with many versions of contemporary lesbian sexuality. She is named as the tenth muse, yet the nine books of her poetry survive only in fragments. She disorients, troubles, undoes many certitudes in the history of poetry, the history of philosophy, the history of sexuality. DuBois argues that we need to read Sappho again.
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Sappho’s Immortal Daughters
Margaret Williamson
Harvard University Press, 1995

She lived on the island of Lesbos around 600 B.C.E. She composed lyric poetry, only fragments of which survive. And she was--and is--the most highly regarded woman poet of Greek and Roman antiquity.

Little more than this can be said with certainty about Sappho, and yet a great deal more is said. Her life, so little known, is the stuff of legends; her poetry, the source of endless speculation. This book is a search for Sappho through the poetry she wrote, the culture she inhabited, and the myths that have risen around her. It is an expert and thoroughly engaging introduction to one of the most enduring and enigmatic figures of antiquity.Margaret Williamson conducts us through ancient representations of Sappho, from vase paintings to appearances in Ovid, and traces the route by which her work has reached us, shaped along the way by excavators, editors, and interpreters. She goes back to the poet's world and time to explore perennial questions about Sappho: How could a woman have access to the public medium of song? What was the place of female sexuality in the public and religious symbolism of Greek culture? What is the sexual meaning of her poems? Williamson follows with a close look at the poems themselves, Sappho's "immortal daughters." Her book offers the clearest picture yet of a woman whose place in the history of Western culture has been at once assured and mysterious.

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Saying All That Can Be Said
The Art of Describing Sex in Jin Ping Mei
Keith McMahon
Harvard University Press, 2023
In Saying All That Can Be Said, Keith McMahon presents the first full analysis of the sexually explicit portrayals in the Ming novel Jin Ping Mei 金瓶梅 (The Plum in the Golden Vase). Countering common views of those portrayals as “just sex” or as “bad sex,” he shows that they are rich in thematic meaning and loaded with social and aesthetic purpose. McMahon places the novel in the historical context of Chinese sexual culture, from which Jin Ping Mei inherits the style of the elegant, metaphorical description of erotic pleasure, but which the anonymous author extends in an exploration of the explicit, the obscene, and the graphic. The novel uses explicit description to evaluate and comment on characters, situations, and sexual and psychic states of being. Echoing the novel’s way of taking sex as a vehicle for reading the world, McMahon celebrates the richness and exuberance of Jin Ping Mei’s language of sex, which refuses imprisonment within the boundaries of orthodox culture’s cleanly authoritative style, and which continues to inspire admiration from readers around the world. Saying All That Can Be Said will change the way we think about sexual culture in premodern China.
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Sex before Sex
Figuring the Act in Early Modern England
James M. Bromley
University of Minnesota Press, 2013


What is sex exactly? Does everyone agree on a definition? And does that definition hold when considering literary production in other times and places? Sex before Sex makes clear that we cannot simply transfer our contemporary notions of what constitutes a sex act into the past and expect them to be true for the people who were then reading literature and watching plays. The contributors confront how our current critical assumptions about definitions of sex restrict our understanding of representations of sexuality in early modern England.


Drawing attention to overlooked forms of sexual activity in early modern culture, from anilingus and interspecies sex to “chin-chucking” and convivial drinking, Sex before Sex offers a multifaceted view of what sex looked like before the term entered history. Through incisive interpretations of a wide range of literary texts, including Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Paradise Lost, the figure of Lucretia, and pornographic poetry, this collection queries what might constitute sex in the absence of a widely accepted definition and how a historicized concept of sex affects the kinds of arguments that can be made about early modern sexualities.


Contributors: Holly Dugan, George Washington U; Will Fisher, CUNY–Lehman College; Stephen Guy-Bray, U of British Columbia; Melissa J. Jones, Eastern Michigan U; Thomas H. Luxon, Dartmouth College; Nicholas F. Radel, Furman U; Kathryn Schwarz, Vanderbilt U; Christine Varnado, U of Buffalo–SUNY.


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Sex Scandal
The Private Parts of Victorian Fiction
William A. Cohen
Duke University Press, 1996
Never has the Victorian novel appeared so perverse as it does in these pages—and never his its perversity seemed so fundamental to its accomplishment. Whether discussing George Eliot’s lesbian readers, Anthony Trollope’s whorish heroines, or Charles Dickens’s masturbating characters, William A. Cohen’s study explodes the decorum of mainstream nineteenth-century fiction. By viewing this fiction alongside the most alarming public scandals of the day, Cohen exposes both the scandalousness of this literature and its sexiness.
Scandal, then as now, makes public the secret indiscretions of prominent people, engrossing its audience in salacious details that violate the very code of propriety it aims to enforce. In narratives ranging from Great Expectations to the Boulton and Park sodomy scandal of 1870–71, from Eliot’s and Trollope’s novels about scandalous women to Oscar Wilde’s writing and his trials for homosexuality, Cohen shows how, in each instance, sexuality appears couched in coded terms. He identifies an assortment of cunning narrative techniques used to insinuate sex into Victorian writing, demonstrating that even as such narratives air the scandalous subject, they emphasize its unspeakable nature.
Written with an eye toward the sex scandals that still whet the appetites of consumers of news and novels, this work is suggestive about our own modes of imagining sexuality today and how we arrived at them. Sex Scandal will appeal to scholars and general readers interested in Victorian literature, the history of sexuality, gender studies, nineteenth-century Britain, and gay, lesbian, and queer studies.
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The Sexual Labyrinth of Nikolai Gogol
Simon Karlinsky
University of Chicago Press, 1992
Through careful textual readings of Gogol's most famous works, Karlinsky argues that Gogol's homosexual orientation—which Gogol himself could not accept or forgive in himself—may provide the missing key to the riddle of Gogol's personality.

"A brilliant new biography that will long be prized for its illuminating psychological insights into Gogol's actions, its informative readings of his fiction and drama, and its own stylistic grace and vivacity."—Edmund White, Washington Post Book World
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Sexuality and Being in the Poststructuralist Universe of Clarice Lispector
The Différance of Desire
By Earl E. Fitz
University of Texas Press, 2001

Driven by an unfulfilled desire for the unattainable, ultimately indefinable Other, the protagonists of the novels and stories of acclaimed Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector exemplify and humanize many of the issues central to poststructuralist thought, from the nature of language, truth, and meaning to the unstable relationships between language, being, and reality. In this book, Earl Fitz demonstrates that, in turn, poststructuralism offers important and revealing insights into all aspects of Lispector's writing, including her style, sense of structure, characters, themes, and socio-political conscience.

Fitz draws on Lispector's entire oeuvre—novels, stories, crônicas, and children's literature—to argue that her writing consistently reflects the basic tenets of poststructuralist theory. He shows how Lispector's characters struggle over and humanize poststructuralist dilemmas and how their essential sense of being is deeply dependent on a shifting, and typically transgressive, sense of desire and sexuality.

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Shakespeare on Love and Friendship
Allan Bloom
University of Chicago Press, 2000
"No one can make us love love as much as Shakespeare, and no one can make us despair of it as effectively as he does." William Shakespeare is the only classical author to remain widely popular—not only in America but throughout the world—and Allan Bloom argues that this is because no other writer holds up a truer mirror to human nature. Unlike the Romantics and other moderns, Shakespeare has no project for the betterment or salvation of mankind—his poetry simply gives us eyes to see what is there. In particular, we see the full variety of erotic connections, from the "star-crossed" devotions of Romeo and Juliet to the failed romance of Troilus and Cressida to the problematic friendship of Falstaff and Hal.

This volume includes essays on five plays, Romeo and Juliet, Anthony and Cleopatra, Measure for Measure, Troilus and Cressida, and The Winter's Tale, and within these Bloom meditates on Shakespeare's work as a whole. He also draws on his formidable knowledge of Plato, Rousseau, and others to bring both ancients and moderns into the conversation. The result is a truly synoptic treatment of eros—not only a philosophical reflection on Shakespeare, but a survey of the human spirit and its tendency to seek what Bloom calls the "connectedness" of love and friendship.

These highly original interpretations of the plays convey a deep respect for their author and a deep conviction that we still have much to learn from him. In Bloom's view, we live in a love-impoverished age; he asks us to turn once more to Shakespeare because the playwright gives us a rich version of what is permanent in human nature without sharing our contemporary assumptions about erotic love.

"Provocative and illuminating." —Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

"A brilliant analysis of the erotic ugliness and the balancing erotic grace of The Winter's Tale . . . and Bloom makes more sense of [Measure for Measure] than anyone else I have read." —A. S. Byatt, Washington Post Book World

At his death in 1992, Allan Bloom was the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books, including Shakespeare's Politics (with Harry V. Jaffa) and The Closing of the American Mind.
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Someone
The Pragmatics of Misfit Sexualities, from Colette to Hervé Guibert
Michael Lucey
University of Chicago Press, 2019
Imagine trying to tell someone something about yourself and your desires for which there are no words. What if the mere attempt at expression was bound to misfire, to efface the truth of that ineluctable something? 

In Someone, Michael Lucey considers characters from twentieth-century French literary texts whose sexual forms prove difficult to conceptualize or represent. The characters expressing these “misfit” sexualities gravitate towards same-sex encounters. Yet they differ in subtle but crucial ways from mainstream gay or lesbian identities—whether because of a discordance between gender identity and sexuality, practices specific to a certain place and time, or the fleetingness or non-exclusivity of desire. Investigating works by Simone de Beauvoir, Colette, Jean Genet, and others, Lucey probes both the range of same-sex sexual forms in twentieth-century France and the innovative literary language authors have used to explore these evanescent forms.

As a portrait of fragile sexualities that involve awkward and delicate maneuvers and modes of articulation, Someone reveals just how messy the ways in which we experience and perceive sexuality remain, even to ourselves.
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Sticky Rice
A Politics of Intraracial Desire
Cynthia Wu
Temple University Press, 2018

Cynthia Wu’s provocative Sticky Rice examines representations of same-sex desires and intraracial intimacies in some of the most widely read pieces of Asian American literature. Analyzing canonical works such as John Okada’s No-No Boy, Monique Truong’s The Book of Salt, H. T. Tsiang’s And China Has Hands, and Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s Blu’s Hanging, as well as Philip Kan Gotanda’s play, Yankee Dawg You Die, Wu considers how male relationships in these texts blur the boundaries among the homosocial, the homoerotic, and the homosexual in ways that lie beyond our concepts of modern gay identity.

The “sticky rice” of Wu’s title is a term used in gay Asian American culture to describe Asian American men who desire other Asian American men. The bonds between men addressed in Sticky Rice show how the thoughts and actions founded by real-life intraracially desiring Asian-raced men can inform how we read the refusal of multiple normativities in Asian Americanist discourse. Wu lays bare the trope of male same-sex desires that grapple with how Asian America’s internal divides can be resolved in order to resist assimilation.

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The Submerged Plot and the Mother's Pleasure from Jane Austen to Arundhati Roy
Kelly A. Marsh
The Ohio State University Press, 2016
In The Submerged Plot and the Mother’s Pleasure from Jane Austen to Arundhati Roy, Kelly A. Marsh examines the familiar, overt plot of the motherless daughter growing into maturity and argues that it is accompanied by a covert plot. Marsh’s insightful analyses of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Anglophone novels reveal that these novels are far richer and more complexly layered than the overt plot alone suggests. According to Marsh, as the daughter approaches adulthood and marriage, she seeks validation for her pleasure in her mother’s story. However, because the mother’s pleasure is taboo under patriarchy and is therefore unnarratable, the daughter must seek her mother’s story by repeating it. These repetitions alert us to the ways the two plots are intertwined and alter our perception of the narrative progression.
 
Combining feminist and rhetorical narratological approaches, Marsh’s study offers fresh readings of Persuasion, Jane Eyre, Bleak House, The Woman in White, The House of Mirth, The Last September, The Color Purple, A Thousand Acres, Bastard Out of Carolina, Talking to the Dead, and The God of Small Things. Through these readings, The Submerged Plot and the Mother’s Pleasure explores how the unnarratable can be communicated in fiction and offers a significant contribution to our understanding of narrative progression.
 
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Supersex
Sexuality, Fantasy, and the Superhero
Edited by Anna F. Peppard
University of Texas Press, 2020

2021 Comic Studies Society Prize for Edited Collection

From Superman and Batman to the X-Men and Young Avengers, Supersex interrogates the relationship between heroism and sexuality, shedding new light on our fantasies of both.

From Superman, created in 1938, to the transmedia DC and Marvel universes of today, superheroes have always been sexy. And their sexiness has always been controversial, inspiring censorship and moral panic. Yet though it has inspired jokes and innuendos, accusations of moral depravity, and sporadic academic discourse, the topic of superhero sexuality is like superhero sexuality itself—seemingly obvious yet conspicuously absent. Supersex: Sexuality, Fantasy, and the Superhero is the first scholarly book specifically devoted to unpacking the superhero genre’s complicated relationship with sexuality.

Exploring sexual themes and imagery within mainstream comic books, television shows, and films as well as independent and explicitly pornographic productions catering to various orientations and kinks, Supersex offers a fresh—and lascivious—perspective on the superhero genre’s historical and contemporary popularity. Across fourteen essays touching on Superman, Batman, the X-Men, and many others, Anna F. Peppard and her contributors present superhero sexuality as both dangerously exciting and excitingly dangerous, encapsulating the superhero genre’s worst impulses and its most productively rebellious ones. Supersex argues that sex is at the heart of our fascination with superheroes, even—and sometimes especially—when the capes and tights stay on.

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Taboo Subjects
Race, Sex, and Psychoanalysis
Gwen Bergner
University of Minnesota Press, 2005
In American literature, a traumatic scene of racial and sexual awakening - frequently involving photographs, mirrors, or acts of witnessing - often precipitates a character's "discovery" of racial identity. Similarly, in the annals of psychoanalysis, notions of self and sexual identity often arise from visual trauma such as the mirror stage and primal scene. Noting this parallel between specular births of racial and sexual subjectivity, Gwen Bergner uses a comparative analysis of psychoanalytic theory and American literature to develop a theory of racialization - the process through which individuals assume an identity as black or white. Examining the primal scenes of double consciousness in works by Frederick Douglass, William Faulkner, and Toni Morrison, among others, alongside the formative visual traumas of psychoanalytic theory of Lacan and Freud, Taboo Subjects reveals how literature disrupts psychoanalysis's conventional models of race and gender identification, forcing a reconfiguration of many foundational psychoanalytic texts. And from psychoanalysis Bergner derives a critical vocabulary for theorizing racialization as it intersects with sex and gender, for both black and white Americans.
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U.S. Orientalisms
Race, Nation, and Gender in Literature, 1790-1890
Malini Johar Schueller
University of Michigan Press, 2001
U.S. Orientalisms is the first extensive and politicized study of nineteenth century American discourses that helped build an idea of nationhood with control over three "Orients": the "Barbary" Orient; the Orient of Egypt; and the Orient of India. Malini Johar Schueller persuasively argues that current notions about the East can be better understood as latter-day manifestations of the earlier U.S. visions of the Orient refracted variously through millennial fervor, racial-cultural difference, and ideas of Westerly empire.
This book begins with an examination of the literature of the "Barbary" Orient generated by the U.S. Algerian conflict in the late eighteenth century in the works of such writers as Royall Tyler, Susanna Rowson, and Washington Irving. It then moves on to the Near East Orientalist literature of the nineteenth century in light of Egyptology, theories of race, and the growth of missionary fervor in writers such as John DeForest, Maria Susanna Cummins, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, and Harriet Prescott Spofford. Finally, Schueller considers the Indic Orientalism of the period in the context of Indology, British colonialism, and the push for Asian trade in the United States, focusing particularly on Emerson and Whitman. U.S. Orientalisms demonstrates how these writers strove to create an Orientalism premised on the idea of civilization and empire moving West, from Asia, through Europe, and culminating in the New World.
Schueller draws on the work of Michel Foucault, Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, Rey Chow, and Judith Butler and compellingly demonstrates how a raced, compensatory "Orientalist" discourse of empire was both contested and evoked in the literary works of a wide variety of writers. The book will be of interest to readers in American history, postcolonial studies, gender studies, and literary theory.
Malini Johar Schueller is Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Florida. She is the author of The Politics of Voice: Liberalism and Social Criticism from Franklin to Kingston.
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Vampires, Mummies and Liberals
Bram Stoker and the Politics of Popular Fiction
David Glover
Duke University Press, 1996
Nearly a hundred years after its debut in 1897, Dracula is still one of the most popular of all Gothic narratives, always in print and continually adapted for stage and screen. Paradoxically, David Glover suggests, this very success has obscured the historical conditions and authorial circumstances of the novel’s production. By way of a long overdue return to the novels, short stories, essays, journalism, and correspondence of Bram Stoker, Vampires, Mummies, and Liberals reconstructs the cultural and political world that gave birth to Dracula. To bring Stoker’s life into productive relationship with his writing, Glover offers a reading that locates the author within the changing commercial contours of the late-Victorian public sphere and in which the methods of critical biography are displaced by those of cultural studies.
Glover’s efforts reveal a writer who was more wide-ranging and politically engaged than his current reputation suggests. An Irish Protestant and nationalist, Stoker nonetheless drew his political inspiration from English liberalism at a time of impending crisis, and the tradition’s contradictions and uncertainties haunt his work. At the heart of Stoker’s writing Glover exposes a preoccupation with those sciences and pseudo-sciences—from physiognomy and phrenology to eugenics and sexology—that seemed to cast doubt on the liberal faith in progress. He argues that Dracula should be read as a text torn between the stances of the colonizer and the colonized, unable to accept or reject the racialized images of backwardness that dogged debates about Irish nationhood. As it tracks the phantasmatic form given to questions of character and individuality, race and production, sexuality and gender, across the body of Stoker’s writing, Vampires, Mummies, and Liberals draws a fascinating portrait of an extraordinary transitional figure.
Combining psychoanalysis and cultural theory with detailed historical research, this book will be of interest to scholars of Victorian and Irish fiction and to those concerned with cultural studies and popular culture.
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