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Queering the Renaissance offers a major reassessment of the field of Renaissance studies. Gathering essays by sixteen critics working within the perspective of gay and lesbian studies, this collection redraws the map of sexuality and gender studies in the Renaissance. Taken together, these essays move beyond limiting notions of identity politics by locating historically forms of same-sex desire that are not organized in terms of modern definitions of homosexual and heterosexual.
The presence of contemporary history can be felt throughout the volume, beginning with an investigation of the uses of Renaissance precedents in the 1986 U.S. Supreme Court decision Bowers v. Hardwick, to a piece on the foundations of 'our' national imaginary, and an afterword that addresses how identity politics has shaped the work of early modern historians. The volume examines canonical and noncanonical texts, including highly coded poems of the fifteenth-century Italian poet Burchiello, a tale from Marguerite de Navarre's Heptameron, and Erasmus's letters to a young male acolyte. English texts provide a central focus, including works by Spenser, Shakespeare, Bacon, Donne, Beaumont and Fletcher, Crashaw, and Dryden. Broad suveys of the complex terrains of friendship and sodomy are explored in one essay, while another offers a cross-cultural reading of the discursive sites of lesbian desire.
Accessibly written, boldly interdisciplinary, Queering the Renaissance will be indispensable for literary critics, historians, and theorists seeking to understand the representation of same-sex desire in the early modern period.
Contributors. Alan Bray, Marcie Frank, Carla Freccero, Jonathan Goldberg, Janet Halley, Graham Hammill, Margaret Hunt, Donald N. Mager, Jeff Masten, Elizabeth Pittenger, Richard Rambuss, Alan K. Smith, Dorothy Stephens, Forrest Tyler Stevens, Valerie Traub, Michael Warner