Book Notes Before Pornography: Erotic Writing in Early Modern England

Before Pornography: Erotic Writing in Early Modern England Hot

Book Subject

Book Information

Title
Before Pornography: Erotic Writing in Early Modern England
Publisher
ISBN
0195137094
 

Ian Frederick Moulton writes in his book Before Pornography: Erotic Writing in Early Modern England:

The recent emphasis within academic discourse on the constructed nature of gender identity facilitates the historicization of both gender and sexuality. If gender is to some extent socially constructed as well as biologically determined, then both gender and sexuality will be differently constructed at different times and places. One may object to the constant use of the term "construction" in these formulations, especially as it implies a conscious volition that is often absent from the production of social structures of gender, but the term is useful in that it also implies agency—gender roles within a given society are determined by innumerable social interactions, not by some abstract social force or spirit of the age.
Work on the history of pornography has demonstrated a linkage between pornography and political discourse in the eighteenth century, and in some cases a similar linkage exists between erotic and political discourses in the sixteenth century. But beyond its status as a weapon for political satire, in early modern Europe erotic writing was also intimately involved in the politics of gender; in a period when modern notions of marriage and of sexual identity in general were in the process of formation, erotic writing played a major role in the construction of gender identity. In a patriarchal culture with a relatively rigid gender hierarchy, the formulation of gender identity and the representation of sexual acts in erotic writing could easily become issues of national politics: in late sixteenth-century England, literary writing played an important role in the construction of English national identity. ...
In thinking about debates over what pornography is or is not, I have often thought that it might make more sense to see pornography as a way of reading rather than as a mode of representation. As a way of reading, pornography would be characterized by an obsessive interest in the material read, an abstraction of the self and an abdication of critical faculties, and a sense of voyeurism—of observing without being observed in return. Pornographic reading would often be followed by a lingering sense of disgust, guilt, or sheepishness which nonetheless would not preclude an urge to repeat the experience. There is no doubt that many people read pornography in this manner.
Others have a similar experience with mainstream television shows—especially "live action" cop shows, coverage of high-profile murder trials, and disaster reporting. It may be that to understand pornography as a way of reading it will be necessary to desexualize the concept. Sexual pleasures are not the only ones that can be enjoyed vicariously and at a distance. Pornography in this sense may have more to do with conditions in which normal sensory experience is transcended: violence, death, dismemberment, physical ecstasy, trance states, than it does with sexuality as such. It may be that only certain societies and cultures see sexuality in pornographic ways.
Powered by JReviews

Today's Major Events

Death of Georges Clemenceau, French Politician and Atheist
Birth of Philosopher Baruch de Spnoza
Bavaria's Cardinal von Faulhaber Tells Bishops Hitler is Definitely a Christian
Roman Emperors Forbid Anything Contrary to Catholicism
Charles Darwin's First Printing of 'The Origin of Species' Sells Out