Intimacy and Sexuality in the Age of Shakespeare

Intimacy and Sexuality in the Age of Shakespeare

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James Bromley argues that Renaissance texts circulate knowledge about a variety of non-standard sexual practices and intimate life narratives, including non-monogamy, anal eroticism, masochism and cross-racial female homoeroticism. Rethinking current assumptions about intimacy in Renaissance drama, poetry and prose, the book blends historicized and queer approaches to embodiment, narrative and temporality. An important contribution to Renaissance literary studies, queer theory and the history of sexuality, the book demonstrates the relevance of Renaissance literature to today. Through close readings of William Shakespeare's 'problem comedies', Christopher Marlowe's Hero and Leander, plays by Beaumont and Fletcher, Thomas Middleton's The Nice Valour and Lady Mary Wroth's sonnet sequence Pamphilia to Amphilanthus and her prose romance The Urania, Bromley re-evaluates notions of the centrality of deep, abiding affection in Renaissance culture and challenges our own investment in a narrowly defined intimate sphere.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text | 224 pages
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 2 b/w illus.
  • 1139211684
  • 9781139211680

Table of contents

Introduction: interiority, futurity, and affective relations in Renaissance literature; 1. Intimacy and narrative closure in Christopher Marlowe's Hero and Leander; 2. A funny thing happened on the way to the altar: the anus, marriage, and narrative in Shakespeare; 3. Social status and the intimacy of masochistic sexual practice in Beaumont and Fletcher and Middleton; 4. Nuns and nationhood: intimacy in convents in Renaissance drama; 5. Female homoeroticism, race, and public forms of intimacy in the works of Lady Mary Wroth; Epilogue: invitation to a queer life.
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Review quote

'One relishes the way in which Bromley pursues his arguments ... via texts other than the usual suspects. And when Bromley does now and again take up some of the more expected literary cases for a study of early modern intimacy (and its discontents), he succeeds in making those works look different. This book is well informed regarding the most pertinent critical debates of the moment in sexuality studies.' Richard Rambuss, Brown University, Rhode Island 'Bromley's book on what he terms 'failures of intimacy' does indeed represent a compelling new direction for queer Renaissance studies ... [He] succeeds in striking a balance between historically informed and playfully irreverent readings of Renaissance texts ... Intimacy and Sexuality in the Age of Shakespeare represents an important and timely intervention in queer early modern studies.' David L. Orvis, Literature and History 'In Bromley's hands, this way of reading texts is revealing and exciting ... [making] highly canonical texts look genuinely new and exciting ... One of the chief virtues and pleasures of Bromley's study is his inventiveness in finding and describing sexual practices that have not been previously noticed or foregrounded by other readers and critics. Setting aside the argument about how such bodily practices relate to the supposed modern ideal of companionate intimacy, we can see the many brilliant readings Bromley offers as data that plot what literary texts can imagine bodies doing with one another in a purely grammatical way ... In essence, Bromley describes a particularly inventive and beautiful historical moment where the scaffolding of ancient classical culture (also explored influentially by Bruce R. Smith) and the emergence of new modes of writing and media combine to open the door to a subtle and sophisticated program of representing a surprisingly broad spectrum of sexual acts.' Shakespeare Quarterly 'Sharp and incisive, creative as it is contextualised, Intimacy and Sexuality in the Age of Shakespeare adds much to current debate about the social meanings of marriage, reminding us of what we might be losing, even as we gain expanded protections for some of our sexual intimacies.' Holly Dugan, Modern Philology
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About James M. Bromley

James Bromley is Assistant Professor of English at Miami University. He has published essays on intimacy, sexual practice and Renaissance literature in Early Modern Literary Studies, Studies in Philology and Modern Philology. He is the winner of the 2011 Martin Stevens Award for Best New Essay in Early Drama Studies from the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society.
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