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One Hundred Years of Masochism

Literary Texts, Social and Cultural Contexts

Series:

Edited by Michael Finke and Carl Niekerk

Just over a century has passed since the sexologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing coined the term “masochism” in a revised edition of his Psychopathia Sexualis (1890). Put into circulation as part of the fin-de-siècle process through which sexuality and sexual practices considered deviant became medicalized, this suspicious concept grew in significance and explanatory power in the expanding new context of psychoanalytic discourse. Today the study of masochism shows signs of becoming a discipline in its own right, the political, social, and cultural ramifications of which exceed and, indeed, render problematic, traditional psychoanalytic perspectives on the phenomenon. The essays in this volume demonstrate, however, that the concept of masochism still offers a point of entry into psychoanalytic theory that, while revealing a number of its most vexing insufficiencies and problematic constructions, evokes also a sometimes surprising illuminative potential and capacity to adapt to changing social realities. And as the volume's title is meant to suggest, the authors represented here tend to agree that the continued rich viability of psychoanalytic theory in cultural analysis is best appreciated and ensured through engaging the theory's own social-historical and cultural contexts.
The volume includes clinical perspectives on masochism, and articles on medieval romance, Goethe, Sacher-Masoch, Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Multatuli, Fassbinder, and masochism and postmodernism.

Series:

Miriam Claude Meijer

After the discovery of the anthropoid ape in Asia and in Africa, eighteenth-century Holland became the crossroads of Enlightenment debates about the human species. Material evidence about human diversity reached Petrus Camper, comparative anatomist in the Netherlands, who engaged, among many other interests, in menschkunde. Could only religious doctrine support the belief of human demarcation from animals? Camper resolved the challenges raised by overseas discoveries with his thesis of the facial angle, a theory which succeeding generations distorted and misused in order to justify slavery, racism, antisemitism, and genocide. Thanks to his abundant papers in Dutch archives, Camper's ideas are restored to their original state. Eighteenth-century issues differed from those of other centuries: Did orang-utans talk like humans, walk like humans; even rape humans? What was the skin pigmentation of Adam and Eve? Did the spectrum of human physiognomies around the globe reflect the Fall of Man, the Creator's bounty, or merely bizarre beauty practices? Why did the ideal beauty of the Greeks appear to be the reverse of the Hottentots? The book contains some 50 illustrations, including apes with hiking sticks or tea cups, metamorphoses of living forms, and Apollo or Venus icons which titillated the science of man.