Faculty Name: Jess Landis
Type of Presentation: Paper Presentatiion
Presentation Title: "Early Modern Sexuality in the Archives and on Stage"
The presentation “Early Modern Sexuality in the Archives and on Stage” will focus on how archival research can enhance literary scholarship. Specifically, I will discuss my search for manuscript and print documents to support my work on the history of sexuality in early modern London and in the theatre. Archival material can reveal historical circumstances that help to explain literary trends and how a play (or a text) was received by the culture at large. The presentation will focus on how a discovery of handwritten depositions from a 1698 English sodomy trial led me to new conclusions about shifting perceptions of same-sex desire between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I will share images of these documents and explain what led to these insights. Held up against some staged representations of male-male desire that both preceded the trial and were contemporary with it, these depositions demonstrate how intimate interactions between men that were overlooked or even accepted at the beginning of the seventeenth century became, by the end of it, fodder for moral outrage in a society increasingly interested in the private lives of public men.
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