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.
Subjects: History, Sociology
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