Before Intimacy: Asocial Sexuality in Early Modern England
U of Minnesota Press, Jan 1, 2006 - 187 pages
Before the eighteenth-century rise of the ideology of intimacy, sexuality was defined not by social affiliations but by bodies. In Before Intimacy, Daniel Juan Gil examines sixteenth-century English literary concepts of sexuality that frame erotic ties as neither bound by social customs nor transgressive of them, but rather as “loopholes” in people’s experiences and associations.
Engaging the poems of Wyatt, Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella, Spenser’s Amoretti and The Faerie Queene, and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida and the Sonnets, Gil demonstrates how sexuality was conceived as a relationship system inhabited by men and women interchangeably—set apart from the “norm” and not institutionalized in a private or domestic realm. Going beyond the sodomy-as-transgression analytic, he asserts the existence of socially inconsequential sexual bonds while recognizing the pleasurable effects of violating the supposed traditional modes of bonding and ideals of universal humanity and social hierarchy.
Celebrating the ability of corporeal emotions to interpret connections between people who share nothing in terms of societal structure, Before Intimacy shows how these works of early modern literature provide a discourse of sexuality that strives to understand status differences in erotic contexts and thereby question key assumptions of modernity.
Daniel Juan Gil is assistant professor of English at TCU.
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Achilles Amoretti argues aristocratic asocial sexuality Astrophil beloved Belphebe Belphebe’s Bersani blood body bond Boyle Britomart claims conduct manuals connections context conventional court courtly elite cultural Dark Lady define desire discourse of civility discussion doth Early Modern England early modern society Elizabethan emotions epic eroticism Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick example fact Faerie Queene functional social gender Greek camp Hector Helgerson historical homosocial humanist identity imagined incompatible interpersonal intimacy Jonathan Goldberg kind lady’s literary texts Louis Montrose Malecasta mediated norms notion ofthe pain Pandarus Patroclus Petrarchan poetry play pleasure poems poetic poets powerful pride proem Raleigh relation Renaissance represent rival poets seems sequence sex-gender Shakespeare Shakespeare’s Sonnets shame shared humanity Sidney Sidney’s social contradiction social imaginary social relationships social status social world sodomy Spenser Stella suggests theater thee Timias Timias’s tion Troilus and Cressida Troilus’s Trojan Ulysses University Press women writing Wyatt York Young Man’s