Early Modern Pornographies

Early Modern Pornographies

Melissa J. Jones

Language: English

Pages: 211

ISBN: 2:00145598

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This dissertation reads sixteenth and seventeenth-century literary texts through
late-medieval and Renaissance records of religious experience, violence, and sexual
crimes in an effort to spotlight a particular kind of pornographic imagination in the
Tudor-Stuart period. By situating profane spectatorship and erotic reading habits amid
other important representational economies of the time, I argue that early modern
pornographic fantasy encodes an impulse to recapture, in occasionally deformed but often
surprisingly liberating ways, the sort of religious voyeurism thatwas integral to medieval
devotional practice and was newly—and violently—disallowed by Reformation ideology.
My research challenges the critical presumption that pornographic gazing is always an
exploitative form of “objectification.” Instead, I find a political and paradoxically
feminist use of pornographic looking, and my chapters trace this affective gaze from its
early conception in Elizabethan poetry and prose to its spectacular stagings both in
Jacobean drama and in the day’s literatures on prostitution.
















Protestant worship and aligns it with the falsity of idolatrous, Catholic, worship.” “The other idolatrous spectacle that draws forth similar opprobrium,” O’Connell notes, “is the Catholic Mass” (33). 55 Neil Taylor and Bryan Loughrey’s “Middleton’s Chess Strategies in Women Beware Women” (SEL 24.2 [Spring 1984]: 341-354) offers a reading of that play which reflects my own thinking about its examination of the dangers of pornographic spectatorship; however, they neglect to find any positive

the Jones/Chapter Three/108 narrative’s erotic content and to its social function (or lack thereof), Salmacis and Hermaphroditis courts precisely the illicit “reading body” and its wayward energies that Duval and Golding are at pains to redirect. The dedication to Calliope, “the true patronesse of all Poetrie,” for example, begins by describing Beaumont’s poetic project in terms that suggest a playful rather than prohibitive elision of non-productive sex, social indecorum, and “idle” erotic

beast” and to deride her linguistic and textual practice: … thy scurrilous, and idle speaking; With words obscene, and beastly language using… And then a heape of bookes of thy devotion… They are not prayers of a grieved soule… But amorous Pamphlets, that best likes thine eyes, And Songs of love, and Sonets exquisite. Among these Venus, and Adonis lies Jones/Chapter Four/164 With Salmacis, and her Hermaphrodite (stz 39, 41, 49, 50). He concludes by envisioning, “Pigmalion’s there, with his

One/16 sex, and social order that came round and down to pleasures of the senses and the imagination – pleasures pornography is acutely suited to examine. Richard Rambuss’s work on the devotional “pornographies” of early modern poets, like my own work on pornography’s perverse devotions, looks to medieval religious culture to find expression for the “plasticity of erotic possibilities” he finds in the writing of poets like Donne, Herbert, and Crashaw. 33 Rambuss’s Closet Devotions contributes to

as an exception to this rule, with the heroic Bellafronte serving as each play’s moral center. My reading of prostitute narratives not from the genre of “underworld” literature (cony catching pamphlets, canting dictionaries, jest books), however, suggests that this ambivalence was far more widespread than Twynning assumes. 25 Twynning, 17-18. I am here borrowing Twynning’s reading of Collinson’s “The Puritan Character: Polemics and Polarities in Early Seventeent-Century English Culture” (a

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