Revealing often-neglected points of contact between the subjects of memory and erotics in the early modern period, this volume brings together two of the most vibrant areas of Renaissance studies today: the study of memory and the study of sexuality. Essays explore early modern depictions that render visible how these studies overlap in the literary acts of memory deemed erotic and the literary acts of eroticism deemed memorial. The volume explores how memory re-shapes the concerns of queer studies, including the unhistorical, the experience of desire, and the limits of the body, and so too does the erotic revise the dominant trends of memory studies, from the rhetoric of the medieval memory arts to the formation of collective pasts. By exploring this evocative intersection, this book opens new lines of inquiry into the study of early modern literature and culture: Are erotic experiences heightened or deflated by the presence of memory? Can a sexual act be commemorative? Can an act of memory be eroticized? How has sexual trauma been manipulated in the efforts of commemoration? How do forms of romantic desire underwrite forms of memory? The essays employ various critical approaches and examine diverse texts, including poems and plays, as well as elegies, wills, dedications, histories, and life writing. Showing that not only Shakespeare but also a broad range of his contemporaries were deeply interested in the interoperability of memory and sexuality, the volume suggests that sexuality and memory are mutually constitutive, and that both undergird the fraught constructions of social identity in early modern England.
John Garrison is Associate Professor of English at Carroll University, US.
Kyle Pivetti is Assistant Professor of English at Norwich University, US.