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By Miri Rubin, Laura Gowing, Michael Hunter

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Extra info for Love, Friendship and Faith in Europe, 1300-1800

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Clarke, in ‘Sex and Civility’ (pp. 285–90), notes the ‘telling incoherence’ that ‘defined the events surrounding the president’s actions, the media coverage of them, and the political response: his alleged crimes and misdemeanors both were and were not about sex’; but for Clarke, this incoherence is less about sex than ‘the fraught place of sex in the public sphere’ (p. 286). Not incidentally, a survey of Midwestern college students in 1991 revealed that 60 per cent of them did not think that they had ‘had sex’ if it involved oral contact rather than intercourse.

218. The Friend foregrounds the importance of the advent of civil society, arguing that it divorced sworn kinship from marriage, and, in doing so, removed ‘the family from the traditional setting that this diverse and complex world had created. “Friends” could still negotiate marriage and did, but friendship was no longer to be created in relations that overlapped with it and were akin to it’ (p. 217). The dependence of the hetero on the homo has been a tenet of queer theory since Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the Closet (1990) and Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (London: Routledge, 1990).

There is no question that many of the issues prominent in the history of homosexuality traverse historical domains. I have already mentioned some: the vexed relation of friendship to eroticism, the problem of anachronistic terminology, the relationship between erotic acts and erotic identities, and the differences between concepts of erotic identity, predisposition, and orientation. To this we might add: the dynamic of secrecy and disclosure; the role of gender-segregated spaces; the relevance (or irrelevance) of age, status, and racial hierarchies; the existence (or nonexistence) of communities and subcultures; the relationship of homoeroticism to gender deviance and conformity; the role of medical and legal discourses in the production of knowledge; and the effects of racial or geographical othering.

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