Erotic Exchanges: The World of Elite Prostitution in Eighteenth-Century Paris by Nina KushnerErotic Exchanges: The World of Elite Prostitution in Eighteenth-Century Paris by Nina Kushner

Erotic Exchanges: The World of Elite Prostitution in Eighteenth-Century Paris

byNina Kushner

Hardcover | December 6, 2013

Pricing and Purchase Info

$41.11 online 
$52.50 list price save 21%
Earn 206 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


In Erotic Exchanges, Nina Kushner reveals the complex world of elite prostitution in eighteenth-century Paris by focusing on the professional mistresses who dominated it. In this demimonde, these dames entretenues exchanged sex, company, and sometimes even love for being "kept." Most of these women entered the profession unwillingly, either because they were desperate and could find no other means of support or because they were sold by family members to brothels or to particular men. A small but significant percentage of kept women, however, came from a theater subculture that actively supported elite prostitution. Kushner shows that in its business conventions, its moral codes, and even its sexual practices, the demimonde was an integral part of contemporary Parisian culture.Kushner’s primary sources include thousands of folio pages of dossiers and other documents generated by the Paris police as they tracked the lives and careers of professional mistresses, reporting in meticulous, often lascivious, detail what these women and their clients did. Rather than reduce the history of sex work to the history of its regulation, Kushner interprets these materials in a way that unlocks these women’s own experiences. Kushner analyzes prostitution as a form of work, examines the contracts that governed relationships among patrons, mistresses, and madams, and explores the roles played by money, gifts, and, on occasion, love in making and breaking the bonds between women and men. This vivid and engaging book explores elite prostitution not only as a form of labor and as a kind of business but also as a chapter in the history of emotions, marriage, and the family.

Nina Kushner is Associate Professor of History at Clark University.
Title:Erotic Exchanges: The World of Elite Prostitution in Eighteenth-Century ParisFormat:HardcoverDimensions:312 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.95 inPublished:December 6, 2013Publisher:Cornell University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801451566

ISBN - 13:9780801451560

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

1. The Police and the Demimonde
2. Leaving Home
3. Being Sold into the Demimonde
4. Madams and Their Networks
5. Contracts and Elite Prostitution as Work
6. Male Experiences of Galanterie
7. Sexual Capital and the Private Lives of Mistresses

Editorial Reviews

"In Erotic Exchanges, Nina Kushner rekindles discussion of a historical population for which we have a great deal of documentation. Because of police surveillance, the dames entretenues of eighteenth-century France can be followed in all phases of their work lives. The result is a textured and nuanced picture of possibilities and limitations for these women in their historical setting. Erotic Exchanges could reshape discussions of sex work in important ways." - Katherine Crawford, Vanderbilt University, author of The Sexual Culture of the French Renaissance