Taking eroticism on the English renaissance stage as a paradigm for issues of sexuality and identity, the essays in "Erotic Politics" examine the nature of sexual definition and desire in early modern culture. Recent studies of Renaissance sexuality have focused on the subversive potential of gender reversal, yet this collection widens the arena of debate to study the structure and cultural definition of erotic desire. The authors view the Renaissance stage as a decoder for erotic experience which is used to both reinforce and subvert expected sexual behaviour.
Any examination of Renaissance eroticism must acknowledge the profound shift in sexual sensibility which took place after the seventeenth century, a shift which introduced concepts of sexual dimorphism and constructed the category of "homosexuality." "Erotic" "Politics" views the theatrical convention of cross-dressing as part of a dynamic which served to deconstruct gender itself, leaving conventional categories of sexuality blurred, confused, or absent. It also addresses a crucial theoretical problem in postmodern criticism: how can a subjective phenomena, such as Renaissance erotic experience, be placed in its historical, public context? And can this experience be examined without recourse to psychoanalytic theory? In seeking to reposition the conventions and subversions of gender and desire, this collection opens up a new and distinctive perspective in the cultural debate.
Contributors: Catherine Belsey, Jean E. Howard, Lisa Jardine, Kathleen McLuskie, Stephen Orgel, Bruce R. Smith, Peter Stallybrass, Valerie Traub, and Susan Zimmerman.
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""Erotic Politics is one of those rare collections in which the essays are of uniformly high quality--both thoughtful and responsible--and in which the essays establish a conversation among themselves which resonates after the book has been finished and put aside."
-"South Central Review ..the volume provides a number of excellent models for how the theater's erotic dynamic can be approached historically. A particular strength of the collection is its commit