The Renaissance of Lesbianism in Early Modern England

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Cambridge University Press, Jun 6, 2002 - Literary Criticism - 492 pages
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The Renaissance of Lesbianism in Early Modern England is the eagerly-awaited study by the feminist scholar who was among the first to address the issue of early modern female homoeroticism. Valerie Traub analyzes the representation of female-female love, desire and eroticism in a range of early modern discourses, including poetry, drama, visual arts, pornography and medicine. Contrary to the silence and invisibility typically ascribed to lesbianism in the Renaissance, Traub argues that the early modern period witnessed an unprecedented proliferation of representations of such desire. By means of sophisticated interpretations of a comprehensive set of texts, the book not only charts a crucial shift in representations of female homoeroticism over the course of the seventeenth century, but also offers a provocative genealogy of contemporary lesbianism. A contribution to the history of sexuality and to feminist and queer theory, the book addresses current theoretical preoccupations through the lens of historical inquiry.
  

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Contents

practicing impossibilities
1
Setting the stage behind the seen performing lesbian history
36
A certaine incredible excesse of pleasure female orgasm prosthetic pleasures and the anatomical pudica
77
The politics of pleasure or queering Queen Elizabeth
125
The insignificance of lesbian desire
158
The psychomorphology of the clitoris or the reemergence of the tribade in English culture
188
Chaste femme love mythological pastoral and the perversion of lesbian desire
229
Friendship so curst amor impossibilis the homoerotic lament and the nature of lesbian desire
276
The quest for origins erotic similitude and the melancholy of lesbian identification
326
Afterword
355
Notes
362
Subject index
472
Name and title index
480
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About the author (2002)

Valerie Traub is Professor of English and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and author of numerous works on gay/lesbian studies, including the book Desire and Anxiety: Circulations of Sexuality in Shakespearean Drama and coeditor of Feminist Readings in Early Modern Culture: Emerging Subjects.

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