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The Sexuality of History : Modernity and the Sapphic, 1565-1830

By: Lanser, Susan S.
Material type: TextTextSeries: eBooks on Demand.Publisher: Chicago IL : University of Chicago Press, 2014Description: 1 online resource (356 p.).ISBN: 9780226187877.Subject(s): European literature -- History and criticism | Lesbian feminism -- Europe -- History | Lesbianism -- Europe -- History | Lesbians in literature | Lesbians'' writings -- History and criticismGenre/Form: Electronic books.Additional physical formats: Print version:: The Sexuality of History : Modernity and the Sapphic, 1565-1830DDC classification: 809/.9335206643 Online resources: Click here to view this ebook.
Contents:
Contents -- List of Illustrations -- Chapter 1. How to Do the Sexuality of History -- Chapter 2. Mapping Sapphic Modernity, 1565-1630 -- Chapter 3. Fearful Symmetries: The Sapphic and the State, 1630-1749 -- Chapter 4. The Political Economy of Same-Sex Desire, 1630-1765 -- Chapter 5. Rereading the "Rise" of the Novel: Sapphic Genealogies, 1680-1815 -- Chapter 6. Sapphic Sects and the Rites of Revolution, 1775-1800 -- Chapter 7. "Sisters in Love": Irregular Families, Romantic Elegies, 1788-1830 -- Coda: We Have Always Been Modern -- Notes -- Acknowledgments -- Bibliography -- Index
Summary: The period of reform, revolution, and reaction that characterized seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe also witnessed an intensified interest in lesbians. In scientific treatises and orientalist travelogues, in French court gossip and Dutch court records, in passionate verse, in the rising novel, and in cross-dressed flirtations on the English and Spanish stage, poets, playwrights, philosophers, and physicians were placing sapphic relations before the public eye.             In The Sexuality of History, Susan S. Lanser shows how intimacies between women became harbingers of the modern, bringing the sapphic into the mainstream of some of the most significant events in Western Europe. Ideas about female same-sex relations became a focal point for intellectual and cultural contests between authority and liberty, power and difference, desire and duty, mobility and change, order and governance. Lanser explores the ways in which a historically specific interest in lesbians intersected with, and stimulated, systemic concerns that would seem to have little to do with sexuality. Departing from the prevailing trend of queer reading whereby scholars ferret out hidden content in "closeted" texts, Lanser situates overtly erotic representations within wider spheres of interest.  The Sexuality of History shows that just as we can understand sexuality by studying the past, so too can we understand the past by studying sexuality.
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Contents -- List of Illustrations -- Chapter 1. How to Do the Sexuality of History -- Chapter 2. Mapping Sapphic Modernity, 1565-1630 -- Chapter 3. Fearful Symmetries: The Sapphic and the State, 1630-1749 -- Chapter 4. The Political Economy of Same-Sex Desire, 1630-1765 -- Chapter 5. Rereading the "Rise" of the Novel: Sapphic Genealogies, 1680-1815 -- Chapter 6. Sapphic Sects and the Rites of Revolution, 1775-1800 -- Chapter 7. "Sisters in Love": Irregular Families, Romantic Elegies, 1788-1830 -- Coda: We Have Always Been Modern -- Notes -- Acknowledgments -- Bibliography -- Index

The period of reform, revolution, and reaction that characterized seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe also witnessed an intensified interest in lesbians. In scientific treatises and orientalist travelogues, in French court gossip and Dutch court records, in passionate verse, in the rising novel, and in cross-dressed flirtations on the English and Spanish stage, poets, playwrights, philosophers, and physicians were placing sapphic relations before the public eye.             In The Sexuality of History, Susan S. Lanser shows how intimacies between women became harbingers of the modern, bringing the sapphic into the mainstream of some of the most significant events in Western Europe. Ideas about female same-sex relations became a focal point for intellectual and cultural contests between authority and liberty, power and difference, desire and duty, mobility and change, order and governance. Lanser explores the ways in which a historically specific interest in lesbians intersected with, and stimulated, systemic concerns that would seem to have little to do with sexuality. Departing from the prevailing trend of queer reading whereby scholars ferret out hidden content in "closeted" texts, Lanser situates overtly erotic representations within wider spheres of interest.  The Sexuality of History shows that just as we can understand sexuality by studying the past, so too can we understand the past by studying sexuality.

Description based upon print version of record.

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CHOICE Review

Lanser (comparative literature, English, and women's and gender studies, Brandeis Univ.) argues that female same-sex desire should be seen as an indicator of the developing concept of the modern in Western Europe. In looking at a variety of texts--from scientific treatises and French court records to the novel--the author sees sapphic relations brought into public view. Whereas traditional studies of gay and lesbian representation seek to unearth closeted identities and usually present same-sex desire as proscribed, Lanser proposes a sexuality of history in which female same-sex relationships could, theoretically, stand beside a historicized "heteronormativity," giving lesbians the possibility of living lives of self-worth and dignity, what she refers to as the "sapphic imaginary." In sum, Lanser audaciously proposes that one look at history through lesbian eyes. Written in dense prose, this is a book for specialists interested in women's and gay and lesbian studies, literature, and European history. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty. --Craig Machado, Norwalk Community College

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