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An Erotic Philology of Golden Age Spain

Adrienne Laskier Martin

Publication Year: 2008

Early modern Spanish literature is remarkably rich in erotic texts that conventionally chaste critical traditions have willfully disregarded or repudiated as inferior or unworthy of study. Nonetheless, eroticism is a lightning rod for defining mentalities and social, intellectual, and literary history within the nascent field that the author calls erotic philology. An Erotic Philology of Golden Age Spain takes sexuality and eroticism out of the historical closet, placing them at the forefront of early modern humanistic studies.

By utilizing theories of deviance, sexuality, and gender; the rhetoric of eroticism; and textual criticism, An Erotic Philology of Golden Age Spain historicizes and analyzes the particular ways in which classical Spanish writers assign symbolic meaning to non-normative sexual practices and their practitioners. It shows how prostitutes, homosexuals, transvestites, women warriors, and female tricksters were stigmatized and marginalized as part of an ordering principle in the law, society, and in literature. It is against these sexual outlaws that early modern orthodoxy establishes and identifies itself during the Golden Age of Spanish letters.

These eroticized figures are recurring objects of contemplation and fascination for Spain's most canonical as well as lesser known writers of the period, in a variety of poetic, prose and dramatic genres. They ultimately reveal attitudes towards sexual behavior that are far more complex than was previously thought. An Erotic Philology of Golden Age Spain thoughtfully anatomizes the interdisciplinary systems at the heart of the varied sexual behaviors depicted in early modern Spanish literature.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Table of Contents

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pp. ix-x

An Erotic Philology of Golden Age Spain has been a rewarding extended journey. I am grateful to a number of accomplished friends and scholars in the United States and in Spain whose stimulating conversation, debate, and wit have enhanced and confirmed my conviction regarding the quirks and merits of erotic literature. Foremost among that exceptional ...

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pp. xi-xiv

Gerard Ter Borch the Younger (1617–1681), creator of the painting that graces the cover of this book, was not only one of the finest northern baroque Dutch portraitists but also an exquisitely refined artist of daily life. In 1654 he produced this magnificent genre painting first known as Paternal Admonition. In it a father admonishes his daughter; the mother casts her eyes downward in embarrassment and silence. The effect produced by the dazzling conjunction...

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Chapter One Prostitution and Power

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pp. 1-42

In his 1625 handbook for priests who were charged with administering the sacrament of confession, Enrique de Villalobos grapples with the institutional, social, moral, and humanistic concerns that surround sex for sale. His endorsement of prostitution as a remedy against graver and unspoken sins (homosexuality) reveals that the trade did not always occupy a well-demarcated or stable socioethical territory. As a source of ongoing preoccupation for the...

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Chapter Two Homosexuality and Satire

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pp. 43-78

Jean-Paul Sartre once commented that “the ass is the secret femininity of males, their passivity” (quoted in Bredbeck 1991, 31).1 His juxtaposition of femininity and masculinity, of activity and passivity, and the specification of the anus as marker and magnet for homosexual desire— although not new for the present state of early modern sexuality studies—are concerns that are central to the topic of this chapter. Before we address them, however, it is important to point out the range of...

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3. Lesbianism as Dream and Myth

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pp. 79-113

In The Renaissance of Lesbianism in Early Modern England (2002), Valerie Traub argues that in English history women’s homoerotic desire seems to have fallen into a great vacuum of silence and invisibility. It is not simply that female subordination was aggravated by the confinement of women to nonliterary spaces, as current criticism continues to argue. The answer lies in the gaps of literary history and the gaps of the history of sexuality, which are gradually...

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4. Wild Women and Warrior Maidens

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pp. 114-168

Evidently, religious, societal, and even aesthetic injunctions have done little to prevent non-normative sexual representations from seeping into the fiber of early modern Spanish culture. In current times, with transnational, transhistorical, transgendered, and transideological figures and themes being eagerly pursued, tales of young women who disguise themselves as men to seek independence from institutions or individuals, to go to war, to uphold family honor...

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5. Eros and the Art of Cuckoldry

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pp. 169-202

In an influential 1963 talk, subsequently translated and published in 1968 as Critical Reconstruction vs. Historical Reality of Spanish Poetry in the Golden Age, the respected philologist and bibliographer Antonio Rodríguez Moñino alerted Hispanists to the urgent task of searching out, cataloging, editing, and studying the thousands of poetic manuscripts that languish, overlooked, in libraries throughout the world. Only by doing so, he said, can we construct a true history of Golden Age poetry...


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pp. 203-223

Works Cited

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pp. 225-248


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pp. 249-258

E-ISBN-13: 9780826592354
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826515780

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2008