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16th c

LHMP entry

Blake is looking at the history of the dildo in early modern culture not as a physical object, but as fulfilling the function of a fashion accessory. This, despite opening the conversation by stating that she is not viewing it for its symbolic purpose, but for its functional one. In passing, she notes that philosophical arguments about the function on the dildo in history have resonances with modern arguments about the symbolism and function of dildoes in lesbian relationships.

Ottaviano Bon belonged to an aristocratic family in Venice and was active as a diplomat. I’m having trouble finding a clear biography of him through online sources. He has no English Wikipedia entry, and the Italian Wikipedia entry is brief and sketchy.

The Flemish scholar Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq was named an ambassador to the Ottoman Empire by the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I. From around 1554 through 1562 he was in Constantinople, primarily to negotiate a border treaty. But Busbecq was deeply interested in manuscripts, in natural history, and in describing his experiences in an extensive correspondence with friends, which he later collected and published.

This post is part of a series of primary source materials illustrating how Europeans perceived, reported, and discussed female homoeroticism in the Ottoman Empire during the 16th to early 18th centuries. I’ll give a larger context for why this is a period of interest for European interactions with a non-European, non-Christian culture that could not be dismissed easily as  not being of equal power an importance to their own.

From the topic, one might think this chapter would focus primarily on the male homoerotic potential of boy actors dressing as female roles on the early modern stage, but the choice of plays that Orvis chooses to examine clearly bring in female themes as well.

This chapter begins with a discussion of historic terminologies for women who loved women and the eternal problem of whether to use the label “lesbian”. Should the historian look for specific acts, or for evidence of emotional intimacy? And as a literary historian, should one distinguish between literary, artistic, or dramatic depictions, and “non-fictional” content in the fields of law, medicine, and theology?

This article starts out with the question, “what is literary history?” It points out that, however approached, literary history, has traditionally, avoided considerations of gender and sexuality, while focusing either on literary personalities and influences, or literary context.

This chapter concerns Early Modern Ottoman, poetry, primarily about love, and primarily about love between men. This is not solely love of adolescent boys, but a wide array of male beloveds. Changes in cultural influences, especially westernization in the 19th century, reframed this dynamic as perverse. The focus of the article is Istanbul and relations between men, but one section of the article looks at female poets, and female same-sex topics.

The classical corpus of “pastoral lament” is small (two Greek, two Latin) and the genre doesn’t really come into being until the later 15th century, at which point the genre has shifted from its classical origins. This “lament for a lost companion” in its 15th century form primarily mourns female figures, and early works lack a clear relationship of the poetic voice and its subject. The poems are not clearly personal reactions.

This chapter begins with a discussion of what is known about Sappho, her poetry, and her reputation among her contemporaries in ancient Greece. The tragically fragmentary nature of the written legacy of her work is traced, including the nine volume collection lost in the 9th century and the recovery of fragments of her work from papyrus sources in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

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