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Ruben Lavrentiev
Ruben Lavrentiev

Imagining Sex: Pornography And Bodies In Sevent...


Imagining Sex is a study of pornographic writing in seventeenth-century England. It explores a wide variety of written material from the period to argue that, unlike today, pornography was not a discrete genre, nor was it one that was usually subject at this time to suppression. Pornographic writing was a widespread feature of a range of texts, including both popular literature (ballads, news-sheets, court reports, small books, and pamphlets) as well as poetry, drama and more specialised medical books. The book analyses representations of sex, sexuality and eroticism in historical context to explore contemporary thinking about these issues, but also about broader cultural concerns and shifts in attitudes. It questions both modern feminist and psychoanalytical interpretations of pornography, arguing that these approaches are neither appropriate nor helpful to an understanding of seventeenth-century material. Through discussions of sex and reproduction, homosexuality, flagellation, voyeurism, and humour, the book explores the nature of early modern sexual desire and arousal and explores their relationship to contemporary understandings about how the body worked. Imagining Sex presents a radically new interpretation of pornography in this period, arguing that concerns about fertility were at the heart of representations of bodies and sex, so that images of pleasure were entwined with ideas about conception and reproduction. It also shows that these texts legitimized the (sexual) pleasure of the reader by highlighting the pleasure of looking and the incitement to sexual action that it provided.




Imagining Sex: Pornography and Bodies in Sevent...


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Prof. MILLER-YOUNG: Oh absolutely. I think that Siobhan is very correct in her research. She talks a lot about in her work, which I've read extensively, about the lower erotic capital of black women in the sex economy as being reflective of our lower value in the entire labor economy. And I think that - my work specifically looks at pornography, for example - you can see that in the production of the types of films that black women appear in: lower production value, less of the kind of market, lower kind of values in how they treat the workers. Women are paid half to three quarters of what white actresses tend to make. And this, you know, reflects the ways in which black bodies have historically been devalued in our labor market since, you know, slavery to the present. I think that, you know, it speaks to the ways in which there's this simultaneous problem that was like a deep desire to have those bodies present and to consume those bodies as commodities, but a deep disgust for black people, our humanity and our bodies, at the same time that allows that devaluing to function.


I gained my Ph.D in 2002 from the University of London (Royal Holloway) with a thesis entitled Writing the erotic: pornography in seventeenth century England published as Imagining Sex: pornography and bodies in seventeenth-century England by Oxford University Press in 2007. I also completed my M.A. at Royal Holloway, University of London, in 1995, having returned to academic study after spending ten years working as a civil servant at H.M. Treasury in London. My undergraduate study was at the University of Southampton. 041b061a72


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