Pseudo-Medical Writings
in Same-Sex Desire in Early Modern England, 1550–1735
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Giles Jacob's writings range from legal textbooks and reference works to dramatic farces, satires, and verse. This chapter discusses Jacob's pseudo-clinical discussion of hermaphroditism and his tale of margureta and Barbarissa. Both Jacob's Tractatus de Hermaphroditis and Supplement to the Onania focus partly on the role of clitoral hypertrophy in tribadic activity and hermaphroditic anatomy, but both are also concerned with the relationships between same-sex erotic partners. Tractatus suggests that a hermaphroditic woman's hypertrophied clitoris produces her sexual desire for members of her own sex, and allows her to satisfy it; her anatomy, then, makes her a tribade. Supplement suggests hat biology (an enlarged clitoris) precedes and creates same-sex desire. Voyeuristic eroticism is most obvious in Jacob's text, although it is not entirely absent from the Supplement even given that author's strenuous and largely convincing claims that the work has a serious moral and social purpose.

Same-Sex Desire in Early Modern England, 1550–1735

An anthology of literary texts and contexts

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