Practicing Sex Article (Faculty180)

cited authors

  • Gamble, Joseph


  • This essay approaches “sexuality” as encompassing both sex acts and the knowledge relations they entail. Concatenating these two concepts as a hyphenated sexual-logistical knowledge, this essay argues that attending simultaneously to the phenomenology, epistemology, and pedagogy of sex acts—to what bodies do, what they have to know to do it, and how they acquire this knowledge—will enable scholars to develop more nuanced analyses of the quotidian sexual relations of historical actors. Reading Thomas Nashe’s “The Choise of Valentines” (1592), Thomas Carew’s “A Rapture” (1640), the anonymous The School of Venus (1680), and the medical treatise Aristotle’s Masterpiece (1684/90), this essay demonstrates that the production of sexual knowledge is not merely a discursive phenomenon operating at the macro-level of various disciplinary institutions but also a key part of the phenomenology of sexual practice. Shifting the focus from what sex meant to how sex was practiced, this essay argues, allows scholars to ask new questions about how sex threaded itself through the daily lives of early modern subjects. Focusing primarily on representations of women guiding men’s penises into their vaginas, this essay also brings a queer feminist perspective to a supposedly normative sex act.


publication date

  • 2019

start page

  • 85

end page

  • 116


  • 19