Reading Sex in the Eighteenth Century: Bodies and Gender in English Erotic Culture

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Karen Harvey explores the construction of sexual difference and gender identity in eighteenth-century England. Using erotic texts and their illustrations, and rooting this evidence firmly in historical context, Harvey provides a thoroughgoing critique of the orthodoxy of work on sexual difference in the history of the body. She argues that eighteenth-century English erotic culture combined a distinctive mode of writing and reading in which the form of refinement was applied to the matter of sex. Erotic culture was male-centred and it was in this environment, Harvey argues, that men could enjoy both the bawdy, raucous, libidinous elements of the eighteenth century and the refined politeness for which the period is also renowned. This book makes a significant contribution to the history of masculinity and advocates an approach to change in gender history, one capable of capturing the processes of negotiation and contestation integral to cultural change.
 

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Contents

Pandoras Box Frontispiece to A New Description of Merryland
1
The Dog 1784 Inserted in A Voyage to Lethe 1741
15
Contexts
35
Entwine The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchuss Vine Frontispiece
53
Richard Cosway Group of Connoisseurs 17715 By permission
69
Sexual difference
78
A female body as grotto Frontispiece to Little Merlins Cave
92
Female bodies
102
Propagation by the Bud and by the Branch In Great News from
115
Male bodies
124
The great upright torch thistle Richard Bradleys History
135
Space
146
The Peeper or a stolen View of Lady Cs Premises Inserted in
153
Movement
175
Pleasure
199
Conclusion
222

The Torpedo or I am not what I seem Title page of The Electrical
107

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About the author (2004)

Karen Harvey is a Lecturer in Cultural History at the University of Sheffield. She is the editor of The Kiss in History (2004).

Karen Harvey is a Lecturer in Cultural History at the University of Sheffield. She is the editor of The Kiss in History (2004).

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