This page reflects a scholar's association with the Folger Institute.
"The Uses of Desire: Philology, Epistemology, Politics" (Folger, 2010–2011)
The book’s central hypothesis is that there is a history of sexuality to be told that focuses on how theories and representations of desire were linked to questions of social utility and knowledge production. The first two chapters address questions of philology and the reception of classical texts. The third and fourth chapters consider classical and early modern materials that use sex to instigate or reflect on the desire for knowledge. The final two chapters explore how Renaissance literary and historical texts engage with classical discussions of the role of certain kinds of desire in the founding of empires, the making of tyrants, and the assassination of bad rulers. My approach in the book seeks to contribute to our understanding of humanist, literary, and political reflections on desire particularly in Renaissance Italy and France. While it complements projects that mine literary texts for exemplary social types or for information about sex acts in the past and their social meaning, it seeks to advance the broader project of sexuality studies further by refocusing attention on transformation in the organization of knowledge and by re-imagining the history of sexuality as a genealogy of the uses of desire.
“Desiring Philology and the History of Sexuality” (2008–2009)