How did Casanova learn the theory of sex? Why did male pornographers write as intellectual women? This book reconstructs the vividly compelling loose canon of sexually-explicit literature, in Latin, Italian, French, and English.
How did Casanova learn the theory of sex? Why did male pornographers write in the characters of women? What happens when philosophers take sexuality seriously and the sex-writers present their outrageous fantasies as an educational, philosophical quest?Schooling Sex is the first full history of early modern libertine literature and its reception, from Aretino and Tullia d'Aragona in 16th century Italy to Pepys, Rochester, and Behn in late 17th century England. James Turner explores the idea of sexual education, from the simple instructional dialogue to the advanced experiments of the philosophical libertine, analysing the hard-core curiculum that defined sexuality centuries before the Marquis de Sade. He shows how close, nuancedreadings of neglected but compelling texts - like the searingly explicit Alcibiade fanciullo, L'escole des filles, and Aloisia Sigea - link them to larger issues of gender politics, aesthetics, literary criticism, sexual history, medical science, mind-body philosophy, and the educational revolution.