Imagining Sex: Pornography and Bodies in Seventeenth-Century England

Hardcover | September 7, 2007

bySarah Toulalan

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Imagining Sex is a study of pornographic writing in seventeenth-century England. It explores a wide variety of written material from the period to argue that, unlike today, pornography was not a discrete genre, nor was it one that was usually subject at this time to suppression. Pornographicwriting was a widespread feature of a range of texts, including both popular literature (ballads, news-sheets, court reports, small books, and pamphlets) as well as poetry, drama and more specialised medical books. The book analyses representations of sex, sexuality and eroticism in historicalcontext to explore contemporary thinking about these issues, but also about broader cultural concerns and shifts in attitudes. It questions both modern feminist and psychoanalytical interpretations of pornography, arguing that these approaches are neither appropriate nor helpful to an understandingof seventeenth-century material. Through discussions of sex and reproduction, homosexuality, flagellation, voyeurism, and humour, the book explores the nature of early modern sexual desire and arousal and explores their relationship to contemporary understandings about how the body worked. Imagining Sex presents a radically newinterpretation of pornography in this period, arguing that concerns about fertility were at the heart of representations of bodies and sex, so that images of pleasure were entwined with ideas about conception and reproduction. It also shows that these texts legitimized the (sexual) pleasure of thereader by highlighting the pleasure of looking and the incitement to sexual action that it provided.

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Imagining Sex is a study of pornographic writing in seventeenth-century England. It explores a wide variety of written material from the period to argue that, unlike today, pornography was not a discrete genre, nor was it one that was usually subject at this time to suppression. Pornographicwriting was a widespread feature of a range ...

Sarah Toulalan is a Wellcome Lecturer in Medical History, University of Exeter.

other books by Sarah Toulalan

Bodies, Sex and Desire from the Renaissance to the Present
Bodies, Sex and Desire from the Renaissance to the Pres...

Kobo ebook|Oct 18 2011

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:300 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.98 inPublished:September 7, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199209146

ISBN - 13:9780199209149

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The circulation of texts: publishers and readers2. 'Copulation is a conjunction of male and female EL with an ejection of seed to beget their likeness' : reproduction and sexual pleasure3. 'As pain borders on pleasure, so pleasure borders on pain': fantasies of sexual flagellation4. 'An extraordinary Satisfaction': imagining homosexuality5. 'Erotopolis': voyeurism and the illusion of privacy6. 'Unexpected Bed Fellows': the comic and the erotic7. 'The Naked Truth': Images of bodies and sexConclusion