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Developments in the Histories of Sexualities: In Search of the Normal, 1600-1800

Developments in the Histories of Sexualities: In Search of the Normal, 1600-1800 (Hardback)

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Synopsis

Developments in the Histories of Sexualities: In Search of the Normal,1600-1800 explores the oppositions created by the official exclusion of banned sexual practices and the resistance to that exclusion through widespread acceptance of those outlawed practices at an interpersonal level. At different times and in different places, state legislation sets up-or tries to set up-a "normal" by rejecting a particular practice or group of practices. Yet this "normal" is derogated by popular practice, since the banned acts themselves are thought at the grassroots level to be "normal." Among the events discussed in these essays are the Woods-Pirie trial, the "Ladies of Llangollen," the popular acceptance of fops and mollies, and the press reaction to the discovery that James Allen was a woman who had lived successfully as a man and Lavinia Edwards was a man who had made her living as a female prostitute. Developments in the History of Sexualities analyzes both the state language of bans and fiats about sexuality, and the grassroots language which marks the acceptance of multiplicity in sexual practice.

Contributors benefit from the accumulation of new evidence of attitudes towards sexual practice, and they engage with a wide range of texts, including Ned Ward's History of the Clubs, Tobias Smollett's Roderick Random, Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew and The Tempest, Dryden's All for Love, Anne Batten Cristall's Poetical Sketches, Isaac de Benserade's Iphis et Iante, and Alessandro Verri's Le Avventure di Saffo.

Chris Mounsey is professor of English at the University of Winchester.

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