Stein's essay argues that within the inquiry called “the history of sexuality,” a critical preoccupation with the materiality of bodies has occasioned some inattention to the experience and cultivation of sensations, which are clearly not reducible to somatic responses but which are just as clearly significant to the historical development of modern sexuality. Expanding the repertoire of sexuality to include the cultivation of sensations makes it possible to connect sexuality with other phenomena to which sexuality is generally considered to be unrelated. Representations of hunger in Mary Rowlandson's 1682 captivity narrative, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, serve as the essay's principal case study. The essay argues that rethinking the history of sexuality in terms of the cultivation of sensations forces a reconsideration of the archives from which examples of pre- and early modern sexuality are drawn—a reconsideration that nominates aesthetic representations, rather than empirical evidence, as key sites of sexuality's modern articulation. The essay concludes that any concern for the manner in which the articulation of sensation produces human interiority would be a matter of “sexuality” under historical circumstances where genitals did not dominate understandings of that term.
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Jordan Alexander Stein; Mary Rowlandson's Hunger and the Historiography of Sexuality. American Literature 1 September 2009; 81 (3): 469–495. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-2009-023
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