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Schooling Sex: Libertine Literature and Erotic Education in Italy, France, and England 1534-1685 [Hardcover]

James Turner , James Grantham Turner
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

16 Jan 2003 0199254265 978-0199254262
How did Casanova learn the theory of sex? Why did male pornographers write in the characters of women? What happens when philosophers take sexuality seriously and the sex-writers present their outrageous fantasies as an educational, philosophical quest?

Schooling Sex is the first full history of early modern libertine literature and its reception, from Aretino and Tullia d'Aragona in 16th century Italy to Pepys, Rochester, and Behn in late 17th century England. James Turner explores the idea of sexual education, from the simple instructional dialogue to the advanced experiments of the philosophical libertine, analysing the hard-core curiculum that defined sexuality centuries before the Marquis de Sade. He shows how close, nuanced readings of neglected but compelling texts - like the searingly explicit Alcibiade fanciullo, L'escole des filles, and Aloisia Sigea - link them to larger issues of gender politics, aesthetics, literary criticism, sexual history, medical science, mind-body philosophy, and the educational revolution.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 440 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (16 Jan 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199254265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199254262
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 23.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,895,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"Schooling Sex is a magisterial contribution to the study of seventeenth-century libertine literature and its sixteenth-century precursors.... Schooling Sex is clearly a monumental accomplishment, a dense and rich volume whose polemical interpretations of contested texts, trenchant engagements with the work of other critics, and refreshing encounters with lesser-known materials will certainly serve as a catalyst for further inquiry in a range of fields." (Renaissance Quarterly)

"A major work that engages with issues of gender and sexuality in fresh and surprising ways is Turner's Schooling Sex&R. The book is beautifully written, with a serious playfulness that suits its subject. His erudite sense of the critical importance of a range of Continental sources for the development of a discourse of English eroticism gives us the fullest account we have of the ways that sex was put into language and rendered meaningful." (Studies in English Literature 1500-1900)

"Schooling Sex is an impressive achievement in cultural history and in the recovery of important, but relatively neglected literary texts.... Mr. Turner persuasively situates his underground canon of forbidden texts in the context of educational theory, seventeenth-century philosophical debate, and sexual politics. Part II of Schooling Sex includes sensitive, illuminating commentary on Rochester, Oldham, Wycherley, and Behn in creative interaction with libertine tradition." (Scriberlian)

If you are interested in the genre and you are looking for a fresh, comprehensive overview of these themes, this could be the book for you. (Francophonie)

About the Author

James Grantham Turner is Professor of English at the University of California at Berkeley. His previous appointments have been Associate and Full Professor at the University of Michigan, Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia and Lecturer at the Universities of Liverpool and Sussex in the UK.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dense and stimulating 7 Jan 2010
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This book explores the linking of the ideas of sex and schooling in predominently C17th-C18th literature, the way in which the erotic becomes a philosophical and educative quest, so that sex is the source of culture and cultivation. This builds on the Platonic tradition of the Symposium, especially Diotima's speech, but explores the way this discourse expands in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Taking libertine literature as his sphere, Turner has written a dense and erudite book as suggestive as it is informative. My only slight criticism is that, despite the title, this doesn't really extend back to the erotic literature of the C16th although he does (has to) discuss Aretino.

A stimulating book, but irritatingly doesn't have a bibliography in the back (though it is meticulously footnoted).
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