Author: Mahdi Tourage
This is the first systematic examination of the esoteric significance of the bawdy tales and explicit sexual passages present in Rūmī’s (d. 1273) Mathnawī, a masterpiece of medieval Perso-Islamic mystical literature and theosophic teachings. Using the relevant features of postmodern theories as strategic conceptual tools, and drawing on the recent interpretations of medieval kabbalistic texts, it is a fascinating examination of the link between the dynamics of eroticism and esotericism operative in Rūmī’s Mathnawī. In some of these bawdy tales, the phallus is used as an esoteric symbol. The book concludes that these tales are used primarily to communicate esoteric secrets, particularly when this communication is contemplated along gender lines, mediated through erotic imagery, or expressed in sexual terms.
Author: Diane Negra

This essay analyses the similarities between three recent films (P.S., Birth and The Door in the Floor, all 2004) that link a midlife melancholic female protagonist to an unruly eroticism. The films’ suspicions that new postfeminist rhetorics of age may disenfranchise women rather than empower them are articulated through the shared plot device of the cross-generational romance. Strikingly, all three films address themselves to topical postfeminist concerns but modulate these concerns so as to interrogate the matrimonial, maternalist cornerstones of postfeminist culture and place a stress on the prospect of female psychological autonomy.

In: Sexual Politics of Desire and Belonging

The sexual liberation that from the 60’s onwards has everywhere shaken the cultural and social standards could suggest that we live in an epoch that has fulfilled eroticism. Now, notwithstanding the permissiveness and liberation of sex, we believe that the present time is essentially alien to eroticism because the latter belongs, together with love, to an array of metaphysical ideals that are irrelevant for the utilitarianism and the individualism that accompany the vindication of sex. In fact, eroticism reveals a passional richness irreducible either to the individual satisfaction or to the abstract prototypes that the mass media vindicate. This main thesis is set out in three sections: in the first one, we explain the import of sexuality as the ground of the socio-individual relationships for the present time; in the second section, we show why eroticism cannot agree with such a ground; in the third and final section, we link sexuality with the development of a mediatic and alienated conception of man whose final outcome is the idea of a boundless excitation as the sole aim of life.

In: The Erotic in Context
Author: Sabah Carrim

Yukio Mishima’s views on beauty are somewhat politically unconventional. Beauty seems to be employed as a means to further the greater spiritual drives of life—such as the desire to regain a lost wholeness. Thus through what is arguably his magnum opus, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Mishima explores this theme closely. In the novel, Mizoguchi, the protagonist is envious of the beauty of the Golden Temple and sets it on fire as the culminating point of the narrative. I argue that the closest exposition of his philosophy resides in the works of Georges Bataille, specifically his conception of Eroticism. Beauty is not an end in itself but a mechanism of overcoming.

In: (Re)Possessing Beauty: Politics, Poetics, Change

When the Barber-Surgeon Company of London ordered the creation of a public anatomy theatre in 1636, it sought to attract an audience for dissections just as the well-known theatres of Padua and Bologna had done. Anatomy demonstrations were popular vacation attractions and the implicit showmanship and performance of the public dissection were often considered as entertaining and engaging as a a stage play production. An interest in uncovering the body and both understanding and displaying its parts emerged during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, arousing excitement, intrigue, and disgust from the many spectators who yearned to see a human dissection on the public stage. Concurrent with this scientific interest in the body and its theatrical display was a concern with solidifying gender roles in early modern England. Religious pamphlets denounced those who cross-dressed and were, as a result, thought to have affected their physical sex. Anxiety regarding the effects of cross-dressing extended into theatrical practices, which included boys playing the parts of women and men engaging in sexually suggestive acts on stage. Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker’s The Roaring Girl, first published in 1611, emerges as an artefact on the nexus of these cultural, scientific, and social debates. Through its recasting of the infamous Mary Frith under the stage guise of Moll Cutpurse as its central character, this play openly engages in discussions regarding the sexualisation and eroticization of ambiguously gendered and sexed bodies. This chapter investigates the ways in which Moll’s body is desired as a result, rather than in spite, of her sexual amorphousness. By placing scenes of this play within the context of scientific interest, discovery, and display, this chapter will explore the various ways in which the body became perceived as erotic and how this eroticism informs the interplay of gender and sexuality.

In: Desire, Performance, and Classification: Critical Perspectives on the Erotic
Author: Walther, Wiebke

, presents, in seven ‘poetic philosophical‘ discourses, and in rich facets, the image of eroticism as a motor of life. It includes the physical desire of the senses, and even the witty-and-ugly—here, that o...

In: The Brill Dictionary of Religion Online
Editor: Alexei Lalo
This concise reader/anthology of Russian and Soviet erotic prose written between 1900 and 1940 consists of three parts: Silver Age writings, interwar émigré literature, and early Soviet fiction. It was not the author’s intention to select the most accomplished works dedicated to the theme of sexuality and eroticism. Rather, the choice for the most part fell upon texts previously unavailable in English and thus less known to readers who do not read in Russian. In addition, these works give a good idea of how the “birth of the body” in Russian literature and culture actually happened and of the laborious, difficult nature of this birth.
Author: Kacper Nowacki

Walerian Borowczyk was a multifaceted artist, painter, writer, screenwriter, set designer and film director. Born in 1929 in Poland, he emigrated to France in 1957, and then began his career with experimental short animated films appreciated by the surrealists. This chapter will explore the main themes of his films and the way Borowczyk applies the surrealist perspective in his cinema. In 1968, after his first feature film, Goto, Island of Love, Borowczyk was revealed to the public as an erotic filmmaker. The raw nudity, the blurry dreamlike atmosphere and the Pan’s violence which he typically presented on the silver screen have been the subject of several controversies and even of censorship in the years 1970-1980. His cinematic universe draws its richness from characters or places coming from the variety of literatures and historical periods such as Lucrezia Borgia and Erzsébet Báthory in Immoral Tales (1974), Raffaello Sanzio in Three Immoral Women (1979), Lokis by Prosper Merimée in The Beast (1975), Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson in Dr Jekyll and His Women (1981) or André Pieyre de Mandiargues’s novels adaptations The Streetwalker (1976), Love rites (1988). In his films, Borowczyk tends to underline the sexual potential of art and literature as well as the sublime metamorphosis of sexuality. One can believe that the La Rochefoucauld quoted in Immoral Tales represents his artistic motto: ‘Love pleases more by the manner in which it shows itself than by itself.’ This chapter will analyse the most representative of Borowczyk’s erotic films in their relation to the surrealistic aesthetics.

In: Rethinking the Erotic: Eroticism in Literature, Film, Art and Society
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