What is sex exactly? Does everyone agree on a definition? And does that definition hold when considering literary production in other times and places? Sex before Sex makes clear that we cannot simply transfer our contemporary notions of what constitutes a sex act into the past and expect them to be true for the people who were then reading literature and watching plays. The contributors confront how our current critical assumptions about definitions of sex restrict our understanding of representations of sexuality in early modern England.
Drawing attention to overlooked forms of sexual activity in early modern culture, from anilingus and interspecies sex to "chin-chucking" and convivial drinking, Sex before Sex offers a multifaceted view of what sex looked like before the term entered history. Through incisive interpretations of a wide range of literary texts, including Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Paradise Lost, the figure of Lucretia, and pornographic poetry, this collection queries what might constitute sex in the absence of a widely accepted definition and how a historicized concept of sex affects the kinds of arguments that can be made about early modern sexualities.
Content: 4.5 stars / Delivery of Content: 2.5 stars
THE ACTUAL IDEAS AND INFORMATION IN THIS BOOK ARE EXTREMELY INTERESTING! However the academic writing is SO dense, it is difficult to comprehend and nearly impossible to enjoy. (Even if the reader has a significant vocabulary and is accustomed to academic text)
I believe if the content was translated for accessibility this could be a BESTSELLER! However, its current format will find few people determined enough to listen all the way through. To borrow from Daniel Oppenheimer this text suffers from: “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity (a.k.a.) Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.”
The narrator has a clear pleasant voice and the ability to pronounce all the words (No small feat here). Yet, he reads a little quickly and there is nothing in his delivery to improve the enjoyment or understanding. It might actually be better in print, where there is time to digest what you've just read.
This book is a collection of academic essays about what people were up to sexually before our current words and labels, including sex, came into use.
Even when the words are familiar the meaning/usage has often changed. The information is about European, especially English, peoples around the time of Shakespeare. The book comes from an interest in showing the sexual landscape in this time beyond a strict vanilla heterosexual interpretation. Basically, humans haven't invented anything new sexually since before culture started being recorded, even if we misunderstand or ignore what has been recorded.
Sadly, the effort expended in a reading/writing style to have the subject matter taken seriously may simply get it ignored by the public.
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