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Look Inside The Sexual Culture of the French Renaissance

The Sexual Culture of the French Renaissance

£18.99

Part of Cambridge Social and Cultural Histories

  • Date Published: April 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521749503

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  • When the French invaded Italy in 1494, they were shocked by the frank sexuality expressed in Italian cities. By 1600, the French were widely considered to be the most highly sexualized nation in Christendom. What caused this transformation? This book examines how, as Renaissance textual practices and new forms of knowledge rippled outward from Italy, the sexual landscape and French notions of masculinity, sexual agency, and procreation were fundamentally changed. Exploring the use of astrology, the infusion of Neoplatonism, the critique of Petrarchan love poetry, and the monarchy's sexual reputation, the book reveals that the French encountered conflicting ideas from abroad and from antiquity about the meanings and implications of sexual behavior. Intensely interested in cultural self-definition, humanists, poets, and political figures all contributed to the rapid alteration of sexual ideas to suit French cultural needs. The result was the vibrant sexual reputation that marks French culture to this day.

    • Sets sexuality in France within a broader European context
    • Provides a fresh insight into Renaissance France
    • Will appeal to scholars and students of the history of sexuality, early modern European and French history, French literature, Renaissance studies, gender studies, and sexuality studies
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Beautifully written, lively, and original, Katherine Crawford's study of French Renaissance sexual culture makes a compelling case for reading sexuality through poetry, poetic theory, astrology, and philosophy in unusual ways. Providing an anatomy of some of the lesser-examined elements that contribute to the development of sexual ideology in a given culture, The Sexual Culture of the French Renaissance makes an important contribution, not only to the study of sexuality in Renaissance France, but to sexuality studies more generally.' Carla Freccero, University of California, Santa Cruz

    'The Sexual Culture of the French Renaissance fills an important gap in the history of sexuality. Before Crawford's book, the contribution of the sixteenth-century thinkers to the creation of modern, regulatory sexuality was unclear. Crawford shows how French writers, especially poets, refigured Italian neo-Platonism and Petrarch's verse to create a distinctly French, thoroughly heterosexual normativity. French historians, literary specialists, students of gay history and Renaissance scholars of all sorts should read The Sexual Culture of the French Renaissance.' Kathryn Norberg, University of California, Los Angeles

    'This is an unusual study, full of surprises. It is grounded in a deep and wide-ranging knowledge of primary sources, and an awareness of the many strands and prejudices of modern writing on sexual matters. Crawford revels in the contradictions that she handles so deftly, juggling with multiple flows of influence.' The Times Literary Supplement

    'This ambitious and convincing volume … has the merit of providing material for scholars and students in a variety of disciplines and, last but not least, is to be particularly commended for its strategic use of visual sources.' Sara F. Matthews-Grieco, European History Quarterly

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2010
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521749503
    • length: 312 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • contains: 21 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: sexual culture? France? Renaissance?
    1. The renaissance of sex: Orpheus, mythography and making sexual meaning
    2. Heavens below: astrology, generation and sexual (un)certainty
    3. Neoplatonism and the making of heterosexuality
    4. Cupid makes you stupid: 'bad' poetry in the French Renaissance
    5. Politics, promiscuity and potency: managing the king's sexual reputation
    Conclusion: dirty thoughts
    Bibliography.

  • Author

    Katherine Crawford, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee
    KATHERINE CRAWFORD is Associate Professor of History at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of Perilous Performances: Gender and Regency in Early Modern France (2004) and European Sexualities, 1400–1800 (2007).

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