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Early Modern Sexuality

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0511  Tuesday, 11 December 2012

 

From:        Jess Winfield < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         December 10, 2012 2:09:48 PM EST

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Ven. Dedication

 

Gabriel Egan seems to dismiss Ian Steere’s hypothesis that Shakespeare was “either fully hetero (or thereabouts)” as out of the mainstream of current academic consensus: 

 

>One school of thought about sexuality that is widely given credit 

>in Shakespeare studies today is that early modern people didn’t 

>think in terms of being hetero- or homo-sexual.

 

While this may be true, it needn’t preclude us from trying to assess Shakespeare’s sexuality based on his work, nor positing opinions about it. Current science suggests that sexual preference is not environmentally determined, so what Shakespeare’s contemporaries thought of their own behavior, while interesting, is a different subject than his sexuality. One might as well suggest that possible mental disorders in early modern individuals are best discussed in terms of imbalance of the humours. I’m sure there’s an academic term for such a fallacy.

 

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