Before Pornography: Erotic Writing in Early Modern England by Ian Frederick Moulton

By Ian Frederick Moulton

Before Pornography explores the connection among erotic writing, masculinity, and nationwide identification in Renaissance England. Drawing on either manuscripts and revealed texts, and incorporating insights from sleek feminist thought and queer experiences, the booklet argues that pornography is a old phenomenon: whereas the illustration of sexual intercourse exists in approximately all cultures, pornography doesn't. The ebook contains analyses of the social importance of eroticism in such canonical texts as Sidney's Defense of Poesy and Spenser's Faerie Queene.

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An effeminate man's body would be physically womanly: he would lose body hair, his muscles would soften, and he might bgcojne impotent. In such a state, he would have lost not just his gender identity but also his social identity, for in the patriarchal world of early modern England, social authority and status were largely, though not exclusively, tied to gender. Thus, while sexual activity is at all times and places a potential source of anxiety as well as pleasure, the social configuration of that anxiety for many early modern English men was quite different than it would be in later periods or other cultures that did not tie sexual activity to gender and social identity in the same ways.

The consequences could be dire—weakness, loss of physical strength, loss of rational control. And if a man engaged in such practices often enough, his humoral balance could be permanently altered—he could become moist and cold himself: he would be effeminate. As I will show, effeminacy was often understood literally. An effeminate man's body would be physically womanly: he would lose body hair, his muscles would soften, and he might bgcojne impotent. In such a state, he would have lost not just his gender identity but also his social identity, for in the patriarchal world of early modern England, social authority and status were largely, though not exclusively, tied to gender.

I4t—HV), which far from being the legal document its title would suggest is in fact a bawdy ballad. It begins: To all true Christian people which this deed shall reade or see I Richard Ambler greetinge sende from harte unfainedly Knowe ye that I for five pence paid to me in my distresse By Edwarde Loyde of Wattlesburighe a gentleman doubtlesse Have given, granted, bargained confirmed, sett & soulde Unto the foresaide Edwarde Loyde a plott more worth than goulde This plot turns out to be not land as such, but the body of Ambler's mistress Elinor, described in appropriate topographical metaphor: A meadowe grounde that lies belowe cauled Elnors close cunnerighe [that is, a "cunnerye" or rabbit warren] Which boundeth upon buttockes dale adjoyninge to the thighe Upon the fourest side thereof two little hillockes are Which for my pleasure manie times I have uncovered bare Within the countie of Cuntington neare to the Navill downe 2O Introduction In midst whereof ther springes a well that cost me many a crowne In a parody of the entailment of a landed estate, in which the owner of a property establishes a legally binding line of inheritance, Ambler entails Elinor to his friend Edward Loyde: To have & houlde to him & his whiles that the winde doth blowe Whiles Sonne doth shine & trees doe growe her water runnes beloue With all appurtenances due In tayle & not in fee But as is the case with most entailments, there is a catch.

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