Sex and Pleasure in Western Culture / Edition 1

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Sex and Pleasure in Western Culture provides the first comprehensive overview of desire and pleasure in Western sexual culture. It argues that both have always been seen as socially disruptive and morally dangerous and offers an entertaining account of the methods by which these attributes of sex were managed across the centuries, from classical antiquity to the present day. The book develops the argument that, while expressed in very different social contexts, sexual pleasure has evoked very similar anxieties. The text draws on historical, cultural, sociological and contemporary sources and is easily accessible for both the general reader and students of gender and sexual culture. In addition to telling a story of its own, it examines lesser-known aspects of sexual history that invite further exploration by the interested reader. These range from sexual aestheticism in the fourth century and the sexual meaning of medieval church gargoyles, through to sexual training in the 1950s and twenty-first-century sex holidays. The book will provide a compelling read both for students of sexuality and for lay readers who find the complexities of human sexuality a source of fascination.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This volume is convincingly and engagingly written as awhole, [but] Hawkes is at her best when she focuses on the 'SexualCentury', the last hundred years with its apparent explosion ofpleasures rapidly channeled into bland consumerism.”
Archives of Sexual Behaviour

“The book is well written and accessible to the non-expertreader. It contains an extensive bibliography and each chapter hasa list of suggested further reading which is useful for those whowould like to explore further any of the issues raised. I found itinteresting and helpful.”

“An accessible volume…a readable journey throughself-control in antiquity, sinful sex in the middle ages, guiltysex and courtly love in Renaissance, the body and desire in theEnlightenment and modern period, and the undisciplined desires oftoday.”
Canadian Journal of History

“Hawkes paints a complex portrait of sexuality in theWest, one that defies simple narratives of repression andliberation, in which sexual discourses are constantly shifting, andthere is no teleological motion ... Sex and Pleasure in WesternCulture is an intriguing survey.”
British Journal of Sociology

“Gail Hawkes’s new book is a fascinating anatomy ofthe pleasures and dangers that have long swirled around the erotic.From Plato to the present, from early Christian mortifications offlesh to the hedonistic individualism of the millennium, desire anddeath, joy and fear mingle, but in ever changing patterns. Thisbook explores the kaleidoscope of sexuality across the centuries,and in doing so brings new insights to the understanding of thebody and its pleasures in our historic present.”
Jeffrey Weeks, London South Bank University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745616711
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 7/23/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.05 (w) x 9.05 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Gail Hawkes is Lecturer in Sociology at University of New England, Armidale, Australia

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Table of Contents


Prologue: The sexual landscape of the new millennium.

Chapter 1: Sex Pleasure And Self- Control In ClassicalAntiquity.

Chapter 2: Sinful Sex: Early Christianity And The Problem OfDesire.

Chapter 3: Guilty Sex, Courtly Love And The Unruly Body:Medieval Themes And Practices.

Chapter 4: Sex, The Body And Desire In The Pre-ModernPeriod.

Chapter Five: Pleasure And Desire In The Age Of Modernity.

Chapter 6: Obligatory Pleasures And Undisciplined Desires: TheSexual Century Reviewed.

Epilogue: Themes And Reflections.

References and Bibliography.


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