Before Intimacy: Asocial Sexuality in Early Modern England

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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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Contents

1 The Social Structure of Passion
1
Sidneys Astophil and Stella and Spensers Amoretti
27
3 Civility and the Emotional Topography of The Faerie Queene
49
Fear and Pride in Shakespeares Troilus and Cressida
77
5 Poetic Autonomy and the History of Sexuality in Shakespeares Sonnets
103
Epilogue
137
Notes
139
Index
181
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Page 107 - Coral is far more red than her lips' red; If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. I have seen roses damask'd, red and white, But no such roses see I in her cheeks; And in some perfumes is there more delight Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks. I love to hear her speak, yet well I know That music hath a far more pleasing sound; I grant I never saw a goddess go; My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground. And yet, by heaven,...
Page 125 - In the old age black was not counted fair, Or if it were, it bore not beauty's name ; But now is black beauty's successive heir, And beauty slander'd with a bastard shame : For since each hand hath put on nature's power, Fairing the foul with art's false borrow'd face, Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bower, But is profan'd, if not lives in disgrace. Therefore my mistress...
Page 21 - In thin array after a pleasant guise, When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall And she me caught in her arms long and small, Therewithal sweetly did me kiss And softly said, "Dear heart, how like you this?
Page 91 - Strength should be lord of imbecility, And the rude son should strike his father dead ; Force should be right ; or rather, right and wrong (Between whose endless jar justice resides) Should lose their names, and so should justice too. Then...
Page 19 - They flee from me, that sometime did me seek With naked foot, stalking in my chamber. I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek, That now are wild, and do not remember...
Page 20 - Dear heart, how like you this?" It was no dream: I lay broad waking. But all is turned, thorough my gentleness, Into a strange fashion of forsaking; And I have leave to go of her goodness; And she also to use newfangleness.
Page 91 - The heavens themselves, the planets, and this centre, Observe degree, priority, and place, Insisture, course, proportion, season, form, Office, and custom, in all line of order...
Page 32 - Poesie as nouices newly crept out of the schooles of Dante Arioste and Petrarch, they greatly pollished our rude and homely maner of vulgar Poesie, from that it had bene before, and for that cause may iustly be sayd the first reformers of our English meetre and stile.

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