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The Invention of Pornography

Obscenity and the Origins of Modernity, 1500–1800

Lynn Hunt

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Belletristik / Essays, Feuilleton, Literaturkritik, Interviews


In this groundbreaking collection of essays, historians and literary theorists examine how, between 1500 and 1800, pornography emerged as a literary practice and a category of knowledge intimately linked to the formative moments of Western modernity and the democratization of culture. The first modern writers and engravers of pornography were part of the demimonde of heretics, freethinkers, and libertines who constituted the dark underside of the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution. From the start, early modern European pornography used the shock of sex to test the boundaries and regulation of obscene behavior and expression in the public and private sphere. As such, pornography criticized and even subverted political authorities as well as social and sexual relations.



Wickedness, Marquis de Sade, Psychoanalysis, Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Hampton play), The Pornographer, Erotica, Puritans, Sex life, Iconoclasm, Obscenity, Obscene Publications Acts, Autarky, Self-censorship, Cunt, Polygamy, Sexual ritual, Buggery, Erotic art, Eroticism, Decadence, Masturbation, Men who have sex with men, Procuring (prostitution), Pedophilia, Profanity, Sacrilege, Imbecile, Pornografia, Society for the Reformation of Manners, The History of Sexuality, Good and evil, Sensationalism, Lustration, Extramarital sex, Fraud, Orgy, Fuck, Neocolonialism, Pederasty, Censorship in France, Promiscuity, Liberalization, Political corruption, Seduction, Exhibitionism, Tyrant, Persecution, Parody, Sexual misconduct, Censorship, Sedition, Satire, Subversion, Sexual Desire (book), Deism, Male prostitution, The Counterfeiters (novel), Perversion, Hypocrisy, Sodomy, Sacred prostitution, Sex manual, Caricature, Pornotopia, Sexual repression, Incest, Corruption, Proselyte, Dirty Story, The Rape of Lucretia, Political satire, Pornography, Sex industry, Pornographic film, Erotic literature, Rape, Eavesdropping, Regicide, Ridicule, Sexual dysfunction, Brothel, Crime, Sigmund Freud, Cuckold, Libido, Sexual fantasy, Political repression, Cannibalism, Prostitution, Sexology, Adultery, Ventriloquism, Counter-Reformation, Despotism, Witchcraft, Heresy, Homosexuality, Burlesque, The Erotic, Sexual revolution