In Pornographic Archaeology: Medicine, Medievalism, and the
Invention of the French Nation, Zrinka Stahuljak explores the
connections and fissures between the history of sexuality,
nineteenth-century views of the Middle Ages, and the
conceptualization of modern France. This cultural history uncovers
the determinant role that the sexuality of the Middle Ages played
in nineteenth-century French identity.
Stahuljak's provocative study of sex, blood, race, and love in
nineteenth- and early twentieth-century medical and historical
literature demonstrates how French medicine's obsession with the
medieval past helped to define European sexuality, race, public
health policy, marriage, family, and the conceptualization of the
Middle Ages. Stahuljak reveals the connections between the medieval
military order of the Templars and the 1830 colonization of
Algeria, between a fifteenth-century French marshal and the
development of Richard von Krafft-Ebing's theory of sadism, between
courtly love and the 1884 law on divorce. Although the developing
discipline of medieval studies eventually rejected the influence of
these medical philologists, the convergence of medievalism and
medicine shaped modern capitalist French society and established a
vision of the Middle Ages that survives today.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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