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  • Erotic Exchanges: The World of Elite Prostitution in Eighteenth-Century Paris
  • Nina Kushner
  • 2013
  • Book
  • Published by: Cornell University Press
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In Erotic Exchanges, Nina Kushner reveals the complex world of elite prostitution in eighteenth-century Paris—the demimonde—by focusing on the professional mistresses who dominated it. These dames entretenues exchanged sex, company, and sometimes even love for being "kept." Most of these women entered the profession unwillingly, either because they were desperate and could find no other means of support or because they were sold by family members to brothels or to particular men. A small but significant percentage of kept women, however, came from a theater subculture that actively supported elite prostitution. Kushner shows that in its business conventions, its moral codes, and even its sexual practices the demimonde was an integral part of contemporary Parisian culture.

Kushner’s primary sources include thousands of folio pages of dossiers and other documents generated by the Paris police as they tracked the lives and careers of professional mistresses, reporting in meticulous, often lascivious, detail what these women and their clients did. Rather than reduce the history of sex work to the history of its regulation, Kushner interprets these materials in a way that unlocks these women’s own experiences. Kushner analyzes prostitution as a form of work, examines the contracts that governed relationships among patrons, mistresses, and madams, and explores the roles played by money, gifts, and—on occasion—love in making and breaking the bonds between women and men. This vivid and engaging book explores elite prostitution not only as a form of labor and as a kind of business but also as a chapter in the history of emotions, marriage, and the family.

In Erotic Exchanges, Nina Kushner reveals the complex world of elite prostitution in eighteenth-century Paris by focusing on the professional mistresses who dominated it. In this demimonde, these dames entretenues exchanged sex, company, and sometimes even love for being "kept." Most of these women entered the profession unwillingly, either because they were desperate and could find no other means of support or because they were sold by family members to brothels or to particular men. A small but significant percentage of kept women, however, came from a theater subculture that actively supported elite prostitution. Kushner shows that in its business conventions, its moral codes, and even its sexual practices, the demimonde was an integral part of contemporary Parisian culture.Kushner’s primary sources include thousands of folio pages of dossiers and other documents generated by the Paris police as they tracked the lives and careers of professional mistresses, reporting in meticulous, often lascivious, detail what these women and their clients did. Rather than reduce the history of sex work to the history of its regulation, Kushner interprets these materials in a way that unlocks these women’s own experiences. Kushner analyzes prostitution as a form of work, examines the contracts that governed relationships among patrons, mistresses, and madams, and explores the roles played by money, gifts, and, on occasion, love in making and breaking the bonds between women and men. This vivid and engaging book explores elite prostitution not only as a form of labor and as a kind of business but also as a chapter in the history of emotions, marriage, and the family.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright Page
  2. pp. i-vi
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-xiv
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-13
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  1. 1. The Police and the Demimonde
  2. pp. 14-45
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  1. 2. Leaving Home
  2. pp. 46-71
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  1. 3. Being Sold into the Demimonde
  2. pp. 72-96
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  1. 4. Madams and Their Networks
  2. pp. 97-128
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  1. 5. Contracts and Elite Prostitution as Work
  2. pp. 129-162
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  1. 6. Male Experiences of Galanterie
  2. pp. 163-190
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  1. 7. Sexual Capital and the Private Lives of Mistresses
  2. pp. 191-218
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  1. Conclusion
  2. pp. 219-224
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  1. List of Abbreviations
  2. pp. 225-226
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 227-272
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  1. Selected Bibliography
  2. pp. 273-286
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 287-296
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Additional Information

ISBN
9780801470691
Related ISBN(s)
9780801451560, 9780801470684, 9781501705700
MARC Record
OCLC
1080549973
Pages
312
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Language
English
Open Access
No

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