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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: October ::
FYI: Renaissance Castration
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1952  Thursday, 19 October 2000.

From:           Hardy Cook <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 Oct 2000 12:49:22 -0400
Subject:        FYI: Renaissance Castration

From: "Gary L. Taylor" <
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My apologies if you have already received a similar message from another
source, but I thought you might be interested in the new Castration
Contest website:

See the site for full details, but it's related to my new book
Castration: An Abbreviated History of Western Manhood. Both the subtitle
and the title came from Routledge--my title for the book was originally
"What does castration mean?", and--as you might expect, given my own
background--it is centered in the English Renaissance. The two literary
figures with the largest number of index entries are Shakespeare and
Middleton. The description of the book in the blurb at the website (or
in the publisher's catalogues, etc.) does not call attention to this
fact, because Routledge believes that more people will buy the book if
they think it comprehensively treats the whole history of mutilated male
genitals. It's true that, in order to talk about early modern maleness,
I have to dissect what's ahistorical about Freud's castration myth, and
then have to connect Renaissance attitudes to their origins in early
Christian debates, and have to relate those early Christian debates to
wider issues in the ancient Mediterranean world. So, the book does range
from Abelard to zooarchaeology, and does radically resituate castration
as an early form of human bioengineering. But Renaissance England is its
home. And although Routledge wants to reassure people that the book is
witty (and I hope it is), Castration is not a joke book; it's more fully
documented than anything I've ever done--which I felt was necessary,
because the historical record and the biological facts about this
subject are so widely misunderstood.

Please pass the website address on to anyone who might be interested
(for whatever reasons: my policy is, don't ask, don't tell).

Since I get asked this all the time, you might also want to know that we
are now generating page-proofs of the long-awaited one- volume edition
of The Collected Works of Thomas Middleton; expect a publication
announcement from Oxford University Press sometime next year.

Gary Taylor
Director, Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies
University of Alabama

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