Borris, Kenneth (ed). 2004. Same-Sex Desire in the English Renaissance: A Sourcebook of Texts, 1470-1650. Routledge, New York. ISBN 978-1-138-87953-9
As indicated by the sub-title, this is a collection of edited texts relevant to same-sex desire in England in the two centuries centered around the 16th. These are not necessarily texts of 16th century England, but texts available to people in that time and place. In covering these chapters, I will tend to give a topical summary of the mentioned works, but may sometimes quote the sources more extensively as my whim takes me. I will also only cover the texts with female relevance. Therefore my coverage of some chapters may much briefer than others.
Chapter 10: Erotica
My write-up of the last chapter in this work is so short, I decided to include it with the previous chapter when originally posted on LiveJournal, to finish out the work.
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This chapter covers various textual and visual works that can reasonably be interpreted as deliberately portraying same-sex activity for the purposes of titillation. One item of particular interest is Jeanne Mignon’s work “Women Bathing” (after Luca Penni, ca. 1540) which depicts a large group of naked women bathing together, some engaging in mutual stimulation. (The work matches in content very well with the picture mentioned by Brantôme as having been arousing to women who viewed it.)
The majority of textual works discussed here that include sexual activity between women were written by men for a male audience and therefore don’t shed much light on what women might have found arousing (or even necessarily what they participated in). The sexual dialogues of Pietro Aretino (1492-1556) include activities between women in the context of a rather anything-goes orgy.