Sex and Pleasure in Western Culture provides the first comprehensive overview of desire and pleasure in western sexual culture. It argues that both have always been seen as socially disruptive and morally dangerous and offers an entertaining account of the methods by which these attributes of sex were managed across the centuries from Classical Antiquity to the present day.
The book develops the hypothesis that, while expressed in very different social contexts, sexual pleasure has evoked very similar anxieties. The text draws on historical, cultural, sociological and contemporary sources and is easily accessible for both the general reader and students of gender and sexual culture. In addition to telling a story of its own, Sex and Pleasure in Western Culture examines lesser-known aspects of sexual history that invite further exploration by the interested reader. These range from sexual aestheticism in the 4th century AD and the sexual meaning of medieval church gargoyles, through to sexual training in the 1950s and 21st century sex holidays.
The book will provide a compelling read for both students of sexuality and lay readers who find the complexities of human sexuality a source of fascination.
Gail Hawkes is Lecturer in Sociology at University of New England, Armidale, Australia
Introduction. Prologue: The sexual landscape of the new millennium. Chapter 1: Sex Pleasure And Self- Control In Classical Antiquity. Chapter 2: Sinful Sex: Early Christianity And The Problem Of Desire. Chapter 3: Guilty Sex, Courtly Love And The Unruly Body: Medieval Themes And Practices. Chapter 4: Sex, The Body And Desire In The Pre-Modern Period. Chapter Five: Pleasure And Desire In The Age Of Modernity. Chapter 6: Obligatory Pleasures And Undisciplined Desires: The Sexual Century Reviewed. Epilogue: Themes And Reflections. References and Bibliography. Index