Early modern sadomasochistic discourse.
8 Posts

Eating Nasty Things (reposted)

[This is a reposting of a post from 2014 that seems to have spirited itself away. Fortunately I had a copy of the content tucked safely away...] This post is inspired partly by a paper written in 1976, but which I have only just come across (Frank Paul Bowman, “Suffering,Madness and Literary Creation in Seventeenth-Century…

The hurt(ful) body

The hurt(ful) body Performing and beholding pain, 1600–1800 Edited by Dr Tomas Macsotay, Cornelis van der Haven and Karel Vanhaesebrouck Manchester University Press, July 2017 I know! It has been too long - far too long - since I updated this blog! Nothing could illustrate that more clearly than the fact that this book came…

Masochism and Anachronism

What does it mean to talk of "masochism" prior to the publication, in 1870, of Sacher-Masoch's Venus im Pelz [Venus in furs], or of Richard von Krafft-Ebing's adoption of Masoch's name to describe the condition of deriving pleasure from pain in Psychopathia Sexualis: eine Klinisch-Forensische Studie [Sexual psychopathy: a clinical / forensic study]…

“Hudibras” and the Puritan Mindset

If matrimony and hanging go By dest’ny, why not whipping too? (Samuel Butler, Hudibras. The Second Part, London, 1664), p. 60; 2.1, ll. 839–40). ‘Marriages’, Lyly says, ‘are made in heauen, though consumated in earth’ (John Lyly, Euphues and his England, London, 1580, p. 129), and Eliot renders the French proverb, ‘Qui doibt pendre ne…

Sexual flagellation in early modern times

Foucault’s claims about the frankness and tolerance of early modern discourse (Michel Foucault, Histoire de la Sexualité 1: La Volonté de Savoir, Paris, 1976, p. 9.) are echoed by Toulalan, who says, ‘feelings of shame in desiring to be whipped to achieve…

Sexual flagellation in early modern times

The "Pleasant Spectacle" of Suffering

Montaigne, describing a public execution he witnessed while in Rome, expresses his horror at the cruelty of those who invent vnused tortures and vnheard-off torments; to devise new and vnknowne deathes, and that in colde blood, without any former enmitie or quarrel, or without any gaine or profit; and onely to this end, that they…

The "Pleasant Spectacle" of Suffering

The Sex Lives of Saints

This is another book I found very useful in my work on early modern attitudes towards suffering. Virgina Burrus, The Sex Lives of Saints (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), discusses the saints of the early Christian period, but it got me thinking about how the accounts of these saints were received in the early modern…

The Sex Lives of Saints

On Mary Wroth’s _Urania_

Mary Wroth's Urania (London, 1621) poses profound problems for feminist critics; here we have the first major full-length work of fiction in English by a woman and it contains some of the most graphically sadomasochistic scenes of male domination and female submission that the seventeenth century has to offer. ‘What, then, to make of this…

On Mary Wroth’s _Urania_