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Playing Dirty

Playing Dirty: Sexuality and Waste in Early Modern Comedy

Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Playing Dirty
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7674-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xxvi)

    In a familiar scene from one of shakespeare’s most familiar plays, there remains a detail not often discussed. Having just met with the ghost of his father, Hamlet appears to Ophelia without a hat, with his doublet unfastened, and, as Ophelia reports to her father, with “his stockings fouled / Ungartered, and down-gyvèd to his ankle[.]” For the most part, the sumptuary aspects of Hamlet’s appearance have not roused much critical or editorial interest. Taken together, they construct the image of a disheveled and ragged prince that testifies readily enough to the fact that Hamlet has been traumatized by his...

  5. 1 The Wandering Anus Ben Jonson, John Harington, and Humanist Homopoetics
    (pp. 1-24)

    In 1616, following the folio publication of his collected works, Ben Jonson producedThe Devil Is an Ass, his last play before his decade-long hiatus from the popular stage.The Devil Is an Assranks among Jonson’s least critically valued comedies, if for no other reason than in following on the heels of such works asVolpone, Epicene, The Alchemist, andBartholomew Fair, the play seems self-derivative—the work of a tired playwright reproducing scenes from his earlier masterpieces. Of course, Jonson was always something of a repetitive playwright. As David Riggs remarks, “Any critic of Jonson knows that between...

  6. 2 Shakespeare’s Ass The Merry Wives of Windsor and the Butt of the Joke
    (pp. 25-44)

    The previous chapter traced the return of the feminine repressed in Ben Jonson’s poem “On the Famous Voyage” and Sir John Harington’sMetamorphosis of Ajax. In the process, it touched on a trope of great familiarity to early modernists: that of the female body as a text over which men vie for rights of authorship. This chapter extends my discussion of this trope by focusing on two women in Shakespeare’s corpus who redeploy the trope in authoring—or translating—a fat male body. Jean Laplanche’s description of psychoanalysis as a method of detranslation has a particular resonance in this context,...

  7. 3 Happy Endings Healing Sick Desires in All’s Well That Ends Well
    (pp. 45-66)

    Framing their mission in mosaic terms, exodus international, one of the leading ministries in the contemporary exgay movement, equates sexual reorientation with liberation. As the author of one Exodus testimonial writes, God “not only saved me, He liberated me and continues to liberate me…. I am not only free of the bondage of unwanted same-sex attraction, I continue to walk free of anything that hinders my relationship with Him.”¹ Yet Exodus’s name alone does not suggest the ways in which the ministry also intertwines the discourse of abolition with the discourse of pathology, such that liberation from homosexuality is at...

  8. 4 Happy Endings II The Unfortunate Traveller, the “Frenzy of the Visible,” and the Comedy of Anti-Semitism
    (pp. 67-96)

    The primal scene of the obscene joke from freud’sjokes and Their Relation to the Unconsciousis perhaps so familiar that it needs no more than a brief recitation.¹ Born out of a man’s frustration with a woman’s resistance to his sexual advances, the obscene joke provides an outlet for aggression that would otherwise be directed toward the coital satisfaction of the libido. Enlisting a third man, the teller exposes the woman through the joke, which disguises (albeit sometimes quite thinly) his aggression and sanctions his otherwise unacceptable speech. (“The smut becomes a joke and is only tolerated when it...

  9. 5 The Pardoner’s Dirty Breeches Cynicism and Kynicism in The Canterbury Tales
    (pp. 97-118)

    Modernity is the age of cynicism, or so we have been told by more than a few modernists. Attacking fascism in all its guises, including the psychoanalytic, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari declare that the triumph of capitalism has ushered in an “age of cynicism.”¹ Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno likewise argue that Enlightenment subjects have submitted to a totalitarian logic of capitalist commodification that the subjects themselves “recognize as false.”² Cynicism, these modernists suggest, entails more than an ability to scoff at platitudes: to be cynical is to submit fully to an ideological structure despite knowing better. Slavoj...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 119-152)
  11. Index
    (pp. 153-176)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 177-177)