The Invention of Pornography, 1500-1800: Obscenity and the Origins of Modernity

The Invention of Pornography, 1500-1800: Obscenity and the Origins of Modernity

by Lynn Hunt
     
 

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In America today the debate over the censorship of pornography continues to call into question the values of a modern, democratic culture. The Invention of Pornography, a groundbreaking collection of critical essays, traces the history and uses of pornography in early modern Europe, offering for the first time the historical perspective crucial to…  See more details below

Overview

In America today the debate over the censorship of pornography continues to call into question the values of a modern, democratic culture. The Invention of Pornography, a groundbreaking collection of critical essays, traces the history and uses of pornography in early modern Europe, offering for the first time the historical perspective crucial to understanding current controversies in politics and the arts.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Europe between 1500 and 1800, pornography was most often a vehicle that used the shock of sex to criticize religious and political authorities, observes Hunt in her introduction to this collection of nine scholarly essays. The contributors--eight historians and one professor of French--discuss such topics as pornography's links to the development of the novel, images of the whore in French pornography, the Dutch retreat from sexual openness in the late 17th century and the libertine philosophy of John Cleland, author of Fanny Hill. One essay argues that political pornography helped to bring about the French Revolution by undermining the legitimacy of the ancien regime. Comprising the proceedings of a 1991 conference at the University of Pennsylvania, where Hunt is a professor of history, this volume aims to put current debates on pornography in a historical perspective, but too many overspecialized essays weaken its impact. Illustrated. (July)
Library Journal
This book, whose contents were presented at a conference at the University of Pennsylvania in 1991, provides insight into social and political history not often examined by the historian. The reader is offered nine essays, an introduction, an extensive bibliography, and notes dealing with the source materials. The essays, which trace the evolution of pornography from 1500 to 1800--that is, from its infancy through the French Revolution--reinforce the thesis that pornography evolved as a political tool. The book is replete with drawings representing the originals found in the press of the period under discussion and supporting the narratives. The work is too specialized for general library collections but nonetheless serves a valuable service for scholars.-- Arthur K. Steinberg, Livingstone Coll., Salisbury, N.C.
Booknews
Distributed by MIT Press. Ten essays trace the history and various uses of pornography in early modern Europe, offering historical perspective that sheds light on current issues of censorship. Among the themes is the linking of pornography as a literary practice with Western modernity and the democratization of culture. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
New York Times Book Review
Fascinating...a fiercely intelligent and provocative collection that provides new insights into both the origins of modern pornography and the dynamics of cultural modernity.
--Michiko Kakutani
New York Times - Michiko Kakutani
Fascinating...a fiercely intelligent and provocative collection that provides new insights into both the origins of modern pornography and the dynamics of cultural modernity.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780942299687
Publisher:
Zone Books
Publication date:
06/28/1993
Pages:
412
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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From the Publisher
"Fascinating...a fiercely intelligent and provocative collection thatprovides new insights into both the origins of modern pornographyand the dynamics of cultural modernity." Michiko Kakutani , New York Times

Zone Books

Meet the Author

Lynn Hunt is the editor of The New Cultural History and the author of The Family Romance of the French Revolution.

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