This distinctive collection explores the construction of
genealogies--in both the biological sense of procreation and the
metaphorical sense of heritage and cultural patrimony. Focusing
specifically on the discourses that inform such genealogies,
"Generation and Degeneration" moves from Greco-Roman times to the
recent past to retrace generational fantasies and discords in a
variety of related contexts, from the medical to the theological,
and from the literary to the historical.
The discourses on reproduction, biology, degeneration, legacy, and
lineage that this book broaches not only bring to the forefront
concepts of sexual identity and gender politics but also show how
they were culturally constructed and reconstructed through the
centuries by medicine, philosophy, the visual arts, law, religion,
and literature. The contributors reflect on a wide range of
topics--from what makes men "manly" to the identity of Christ's
father, from what kinds of erotic practices went on among women in
sixteenth-century seraglios to how men's hemorrhoids can be
variously labeled. Essays scrutinize stories of menstruating males
and early writings on the presumed inferiority of female bodily
functions. Others investigate a psychomorphology of the clitoris
that challenges Freud's account of lesbianism as an infantile stage
of sexual development and such topics as the geographical origins
of medicine and the materialization of genealogy in the presence of
Renaissance theatrical ghosts.
This collection will engage those in English, comparative,
Italian, Spanish, and French studies, as well as in history,
history of medicine, and ancient and early modern religious
"Contributors." Kevin Brownlee, Marina Scordilis Brownlee,
Elizabeth Clark, Valeria Finucci, Dale Martin, Gianna Pomata,
Maureen Quilligan, Nancy Siraisi, Peter Stallybrass, Valerie
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