1st Edition

The Sciences of Homosexuality in Early Modern Europe

Edited By Kenneth Borris, George S. Rousseau Copyright 2008
    296 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    296 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Sciences of Homosexuality in Early Modern Europe investigates early modern scientific accounts of same-sex desires and the shapes they assumed in everyday life. It explores the significance of those representations and interpretations from around 1450 to 1750, long before the term homosexuality was coined and accrued its current range of cultural meanings.

    This collection establishes that efforts to produce scientific explanations for same-sex desires and sexual behaviours are not a modern invention, but have long been characteristic of European thought. The sciences of antiquity had posited various types of same-sexual affinities rooted in singular natures. These concepts were renewed, elaborated, and reassessed from the late medieval scientific revival to the early Enlightenment. The deviance of such persons seemed outwardly inscribed upon their bodies, documented in treatises and case studies. It was attributed to diverse inborn causes such as distinctive anatomies or physiologies, and embryological, astrological, or temperamental factors.

    This original book freshly illuminates many of the questions that are current today about the nature of homosexual activity and reveals how the early modern period and its scientific interpretations of same-sex relationships are fundamental to understanding the conceptual development of contemporary sexuality.

    1. Introduction: The Prehistory of Homosexuality in the Early Modern Sciences Kenneth Borris  Part 1: Medicine  2. Disorder of Body, Mind or Soul: Male Sexual Deviance in Jacques Despars’s 'Commentary on Avicenna' Derek Neal  3. Giulio Guastavini’s Commentary on Pseudo-Aristotle’s Account of Male Same-Sexual Coitus, 'Problemata 4.26' Faith Wallis  4. Policing the Anus: Stuprum and Sodomy According to Paolo Zacchia’s 'Forensic Medicine' George Rousseau  5. Syphilis and the Silencing of Sodomy in Juan Calvo’s 'Tratado del Morbo Gálico' Cristian Berco  6. The Strange Medical Silence on Same-Sex Transmission of the Pox, c.1660–c.1760 Kevin Siena  Part 2:  Divinatory, Speculative and other Sciences  7. Sodomizing Science: Cocles, Patricio Tricasso, and the Constitutional Morphologies of Renaissance Male Same-Sex Lovers Kenneth Borris  8. Representations of Same-Sex Love in Early Modern Astrology P.G. Maxwell-Stuart  9. Astrological Conditioning of Same-Sexual Relations in Girolamo Cardano’s Theoretical Treatises and Celebrity Genitures H. Darrel Rutkin  10. 'Bolognan Boys are Beautiful, Tasteful, and Mostly Fine Musicians': Cardano on Male Same-Sex Love and Music Guido Giglioni  11. Mercury Falling: Gender Flexibility and Eroticism in Popular Alchemy Allison B. Kavey  Part 3: Science and Sapphisms  12. Intrigues of Hermaphrodites and the Intercourse of Science with Erotica Winfried Schleiner  13. Erotics versus Sexualities: Current Science and Reading Early Modern Female Same-Sex Relations Harriette Andreadis


    Kenneth Borris is Professor of English at McGill University and is a recipient of the MacCaffrey Award and a Canada Research Fellowship. His previous books are Same-Sex Desire in the English Renaissance (Routledge, 2004), Allegory and Epic in English Renaissance Literature: Heroic Form in Sidney, Spenser, and Milton (2001), Spenser’s Poetics of Prophecy (1991), and a co-edited collection, The Affectionate Shepherd: Celebrating Richard Barnfield (2001).

    George Rousseau is Co-Director of the Centre for the History of Childhood at Oxford University. His previous publications include Nervous Acts: Essays on Literature, Culture and Sensibility (2004), Framing and Imagining Disease in Cultural History (2003) Pre- and Post-Modern Discourses: medical, scientific, anthropological (Manchester, 1991) and, with Roy Porter, Gout: The Patrician Malady (1998).