groundbreaking collection of essays, historians and literary theorists
examine how, between 1500 and 1800, pornography emerged as a literary
practice and a category of knowledge intimately linked to the formative
moments of Western modernity and the democratization of culture.
The first modern writers and engravers of pornography were part
of the demimonde of heretics, freethinkers, and libertines who constituted
the dark underside of the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution,
the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution. From the start, early
modern European pornography used the shock of sex to test the boundaries
and regulation of obscene behavior and expression in the public
and private sphere. As such, pornography criticized and even subverted
political authorities as well as social and sexual relations.
“These absorbing and beautifully researched essays, together
with Lynn Hunt’s masterful introduction, give a new history
to erotic writing and the representation of sexual action.”
—Natalie Zemon Davis