Male prostitution and the homoerotic sex-market in Early Modern England

Savvidis, Dimitris (2011) Male prostitution and the homoerotic sex-market in Early Modern England. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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This thesis explores male prostitution in early modern culture and calls for a reconsideration of linguistic representations of sodomy and homoeroticism in literary and historical criticism. It argues that as a variant expression of homoeroticism, its examination unfolds significant ideological and cultural implications for established perceptions of male relations. As instructed by classical textuality and misogynistic stigmatization of prostitution, the boy prostitute becomes a relational category that eludes easy classification, emerging syntactically alongside the female whore in English culture. Adopting a social constructionist approach, this dissertation traces male prostitution’s ambivalent representational properties in various genres and discourses, namely poetry, plays, historical narratives, theatre historiography, defamation accounts, philosophical diatribes and lexicography. The diverse vocabulary employed to describe homoerotic relations and identities is closely scrutinised in order to expose the metaphoricity and ambiguity embedded in such terms as ‘Ganymede’, ‘ingle’, ‘mignon’ and ‘catamite’. An analysis of the terminology demonstrates the ways in which discursive systems of language, within specific historical and cultural contexts, have facilitated the concomitant textual emergence of the sodomite with the male prostitute.

The Introduction establishes the theoretical framework through which male prostitution from the medieval period until the mid-twentieth century has been discussed in twentieth-century criticism. Chapter One assesses its textual appearance in early modern Italy, France and Spain, while it sets the parameters for its examination in seventeenth-century England. Chapter Two analyses the representation of the male prostitute in Donne’s, Marston’s and Middleton’s satires and Chapter Three examines the theatrical institution and the ways in which theatre historiography misdirects discussions on sodomy and prostitution. The penultimate chapter focuses on textual constructions of the male prostitute in educational contexts and the final chapter addresses possible interrelations between prostitution, servitude, favouritism and friendship as represented within lexicography, slanderous discourse and historical narratives on King James and Francis Bacon.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women > HQ0012 Sexual life > HQ0101 Prostitution
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR0161 By period > PR0401 Modern > PR0421 Elizabethan era (1550-1640)
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2011 14:29
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:50

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