Sex Before Sex: Figuring The Act In Early Modern England by James M. BromleySex Before Sex: Figuring The Act In Early Modern England by James M. Bromley

Sex Before Sex: Figuring The Act In Early Modern England

EditorJames M. Bromley, Will Stockton

Paperback | February 15, 2013

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 180 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


Ships within 3-5 weeks

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


What is sex exactly? Does everyone agree on a definition? And does that definition hold when considering literary production in other times and places? Sex before Sex makes clear that we cannot simply transfer our contemporary notions of what constitutes a sex act into the past and expect them to be true for the people who were then reading literature and watching plays. The contributors confront how our current critical assumptions about definitions of sex restrict our understanding of representations of sexuality in early modern England.

Drawing attention to overlooked forms of sexual activity in early modern culture, from anilingus and interspecies sex to “chin-chucking” and convivial drinking, Sex before Sex offers a multifaceted view of what sex looked like before the term entered history. Through incisive interpretations of a wide range of literary texts, including Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Paradise Lost, the figure of Lucretia, and pornographic poetry, this collection queries what might constitute sex in the absence of a widely accepted definition and how a historicized concept of sex affects the kinds of arguments that can be made about early modern sexualities.

Contributors: Holly Dugan, George Washington U; Will Fisher, CUNY–Lehman College; Stephen Guy-Bray, U of British Columbia; Melissa J. Jones, Eastern Michigan U; Thomas H. Luxon, Dartmouth College; Nicholas F. Radel, Furman U; Kathryn Schwarz, Vanderbilt U; Christine Varnado, U of Buffalo–SUNY.

James M. Bromley is assistant professor of English at Miami University. He is the author of Intimacy and Sexuality in the Age of Shakespeare.
Title:Sex Before Sex: Figuring The Act In Early Modern EnglandFormat:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.9 inPublished:February 15, 2013Publisher:University of Minnesota PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0816680779

ISBN - 13:9780816680771

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents



Introduction: Figuring Early Modern Sex

Will Stockton and James M. Bromley

1. “Invisible Sex!”: What Looks Like the Act in Early Modern Drama?

Christine Varnado

2. Death and Theory: Or, the Problem of Counterfactual Sex

Kathryn Schwarz

3. Spectacular Impotence: Or, Things that Hardly Ever Happen in the Critical History of Pornography

Melissa J. Jones

4. “Unmanly Passion”: Sodomitical Self-Fashioning in John Ford’s The Lover’s Melancholy and Perkin Warbeck

Nicholas F. Radel

5. The Erotics of Chin-chucking in Seventeenth-Century England

Will Fisher

6. Rimming the Renaissance

James M. Bromley

7. Animal, Vegetable, Sexual: Metaphor in John Donne’s “Sappho to Philaenis” and Andrew Marvell’s “The Garden”

Stephen Guy-Bray

8. Aping Rape: Animal Ravishment and Sexual Knowledge in Early Modern England

Holly Dugan

9. The Seduction of Milton’s Lady: Rape, Psychoanalysis, and the Erotics of Consumption in “Comus”

Will Stockton

10 “How human life began”: Sexual Reproduction in Book 8 of Paradise Lost

Thomas H. Luxon


Valerie Traub