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Before Intimacy

Asocial Sexuality in Early Modern England

2005
Author:

Daniel Juan Gil

Before Intimacy

An insightful reexamination of early modern sexuality

Daniel Juan Gil examines sixteenth-century English literary concepts of sexuality that frame erotic ties as neither bound by social customs nor transgressive of them, but rather as “loopholes” in people's associations. Engaging Sidney's Astrophil and Stella, Spenser's The Faerie Queene, and Shakespeare's sonnets, among others Gil demonstrates how sexuality was conceived as a relationship system not institutionalized in a domestic realm.

Before Intimacy argues that socially inconsequential sexual exchange and the sexual charge of social impasse offer crucial material for the histories of sexuality, utopian thought, and literature; it is a fascinating and original contribution to our thinking about sexuality's historical forms.

Laurie Shannon, author of Sovereign Amity: Figures of Friendship in Shakespearean Contexts

Before the eighteenth-century rise of the ideology of intimacy, sexuality was defined not by social affiliations but by bodies. In Before Intimacy, Daniel Juan Gil examines sixteenth-century English literary concepts of sexuality that frame erotic ties as neither bound by social customs nor transgressive of them, but rather as “loopholes” in people’s experiences and associations.

Engaging the poems of Wyatt, Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella, Spenser’s Amoretti and The Faerie Queene, and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida and the sonnets, Gil demonstrates how sexuality was conceived as a relationship system inhabited by men and women interchangeably—set apart from the “norm” and not institutionalized in a private or domestic realm. Going beyond the sodomy-as-transgression analytic, he asserts the existence of socially inconsequential sexual bonds while recognizing the pleasurable effects of violating the supposed traditional modes of bonding and ideals of universal humanity and social hierarchy.

Celebrating the ability of corporeal emotions to interpret connections between people who share nothing in terms of societal structure, Before Intimacy shows how these works of early modern literature provide a discourse of sexuality that strives to understand status differences in erotic contexts and thereby question key assumptions of modernity.

Before Intimacy

Daniel Juan Gil is assistant professor of English at TCU.

Before Intimacy

Before Intimacy argues that socially inconsequential sexual exchange and the sexual charge of social impasse offer crucial material for the histories of sexuality, utopian thought, and literature; it is a fascinating and original contribution to our thinking about sexuality's historical forms.

Laurie Shannon, author of Sovereign Amity: Figures of Friendship in Shakespearean Contexts

Gil produces supple, insightful readings.

Criticism

Makes a substantial contribution to the year’s dialogue on authorship. The book is intellectually strong.

Studies in English Literature

Gil exudes a dazzling confidence in marshaling such a diverse array of historical and theoretical arguments.

Criticism

Daniel Juan Gil’s book is a fascinating and novel study of sexuality in Renaissance literature. Gil produces a series of closely argued and convincing analyses of some of the most interesting texts of the English Renaissance. Valuable and consistently interesting.

Shakespeare Studies

Original, provocative, and generative.

Shakespeare Quarterly

Before Intimacy

CONTENT

Acknowledgments

Introduction

1. The Social Structure of Passion
2. Intimacy and the Eroticism of Social Distance: Sidney’s Astrophil and Stellaand Spenser’s Amoretti
3. Civility and the Emotional Topography of The Faerie Queene
4. At the Limits of the Social World:Fear and Pride in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida
5. Poetic Autonomy and the History of Sexuality in Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Epilogue
Notes

Index