Libido Sciendi: Apuleius, Boccaccio and the History of Sexuality

Journal Article (Academic article)

This essay contributes to recent debates in the study of the history of sexuality that have developed out of a comparison of a story from Apuleius’ Golden Ass and its transformation by Boccaccio in the Decameron. Addressing questions of book history, philology, and textual transmission, it offers another perspective on the problems of identity, temporality, and epistemology that have been at the center of these debates and proposes reorienting considerations of Foucault’s still-contested role in the field by drawing on the underappreciated later volumes of Foucault’s landmark History of Sexuality. Rather than mining these stories for exemplary social types or for information about past sex acts’ social meanings, this essay uses philological and paratextual materials to focalize these tales’ interpretive erotics, complicate the temporal relationship between them, and model a way of studying the history of sexuality that is not tied to a history of social types, identities, or acts.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Eisner, M; Schachter, M

Published Date

  • May 2009

Published In

  • Pmla