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Religious and Moral Writings
Religious and Moral Writings
The condemnation of male and female same-sex sexual acts is embedded in
the earliest Christian theology regarding sexuality, heterosexual marriage,
and reproduction: human genitalia were created for reproduction, mirroring
the creative act of God. Thus, using the genitals for anything other
than reproduction was a violation of God’s intentions for the sexual and
reproductive organs, of his command to Adam and Eve to ‘be fruitful
and multiply’ (Gen. 1.28), and of his larger plan
The death of Cordelia and the economics
of preference in eighteenth-century
Biology recapitulates economics: at least evolutionary biology seems
to be rediscovering and analysing the same kinds of ideas that the
great eighteenth-century economic psychologists (from Mandeville
to Hume to Smith) had explored. Over the last few years there has
been a heated debate among evolutionary theorists – scientists,
mathematicians, the odd humanist – about whether altruism is
possible, given the core idea that evolution is driven by the
James Baldwin, the Religious Right, and the Moral
In the 1980s, James Baldwin recognized that a major transformation had occurred in the
socio-political functions of religion. His critique adapted accordingly, focusing on the
ways in which religion—particularly white evangelical Christianity—had morphed into a
movement deeply enmeshed with mass media, conservativepolitics, and late capitalism.
Religion in the Reagan era was leveraged, sold, and consumed in ways never before seen,
from charismatic televangelists, to Christian-themed amusement parks, to mega-churches.
The new movement was often characterized as the “religious right” or the “Moral Majority”
and was central to both Reagan’s political coalition as well as the broader culture wars.
For Baldwin, this development had wide-ranging ramifications for society and the
individual. This article draws on Baldwin’s final major essay, “To Crush the Serpent”
(1987), to examine the author’s evolving thoughts on religion, salvation, and
transgression in the context of the Reagan era.
James Baldwin, William F. Buckley, Jr., and the Civil Rights
Born in New York City only fifteen months apart, the Harlem-raised James Baldwin
and the privileged William F. Buckley, Jr. could not have been more different,
but they both rose to the height of American intellectual life during the civil
rights movement. By the time they met in February 1965 to debate race and the
American Dream at the Cambridge Union, Buckley—a founding father of the
American conservative movement—was determined to sound the alarm about a
man he considered an “eloquent menace.” For his part, Baldwin
viewed Buckley as a deluded reactionary whose popularity revealed the sickness
of the American soul. The stage was set for an epic confrontation that pitted
Baldwin’s call for a moral revolution in race relations against
Buckley’s unabashed elitism and implicit commitment to white supremacy.
In this article I introduce readers to the story at the heart of my new book
about Baldwin and Buckley, The Fire Is Upon Us.
James Baldwin has frequently been written about in terms of his relationship to geographical locations such as Harlem, Paris, St. Paul-de-Vence, Istanbul, and “the transatlantic,” but his longstanding connection to the American South, a region that served as a vexed and ambiguous spiritual battleground for him throughout his life and career, has been little discussed, even though Baldwin referred to himself as “in all but no technical legal fact, a Southerner.” This article argues that the South has been seriously underconsidered as a major factor in Baldwin’s psyche and career and that were it not for the challenge to witness the Southern Civil Rights movement made to Baldwin in the late 1950s, he might never have left Paris and become the writer and thinker into which he developed. It closely examines Baldwin’s fictional and nonfictional engagements with the American South during two distinct periods of his career, from his first visit to the region in 1957 through the watershed year of 1963, and from 1963 through the publication of Baldwin’s retrospective memoir No Name in the Street in 1972, and it charts Baldwin’s complex and often contradictory negotiations with the construction of identity in white and black Southerners and the South’s tendency to deny and censor its historical legacy of racial violence. A few years before his death, Baldwin wrote that “[t]he spirit of the South is the spirit of America,” and this essay investigates how the essential question he asked about the region—whether it’s a bellwether for America’s moral redemption or moral decline—remains a dangerous and open one.
This book is an anthology of selections from works dealing with same-sex love, desire, sexual acts, and relationships during the period 1550-1735 in early modern England. It presents religious and moral writings, pseudo-medical writings, criminal pamphlets, travel writings, and letters on same-sex desire. The condemnation of male and female same-sex sexual acts is embedded in the earliest Christian theology. The early modern medical, pseudo-medical, and anatomical texts in Latin are surprisingly reticent about the physiological and anatomical aspects of homoerotic sexuality and desire. Canon law had long condemned male same-sex sexual acts. The 1533-34 statute in England forbade male same-sex sexual acts but ignored female same-sex intercourse. English travel narratives dealing with the sexual customs of other cultures often present sexual licentiousness as endemic, sometimes touching specifically on sodomy and tribadism. The most detailed presentations of same-sex erotic relationships in non-European cultures are those relating to Turkey and the Turkish seraglio. Familiar letters, such as between James I and VI, could reveal personal secrets and be radically transgressive in their emphasis on fostering love and desire. The book discusses homo-sexual subculture during 1700-1730, translation of Latin and Greek texts, and numerous literature representing male and female same-sex erotic relationships. The largely 'socially diffused homosexuality' of the seventeenth century changed profoundly with 'clothes, gestures, language' connoting 'homosexuality'. The book shows how literary genres of male same-sex and female-sex desires such as Shakespeare's Sonnets, and Catherine Trotter's Agnes de Castro allow the modern reader to chart changes in their representation.
eighteenth-century moral philosophy cannot be reduced to matters
of grammar or semantics, but it is important to re-establish those
reflexive links which such pronouns and compound nouns suggest
and which always accompany and vastly outnumber the use of
the word ‘self’ in isolation. The tentative hypothesis underlying
what follows is that in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth
SELF-LOVE IN MANDEVILLE AND HUTCHESON
centuries, the isolation of self, its elevation to the status of a
thing ‘in itself’, emerges from such reflexive usages in the course
spirits’ (BH 59) into an institution for the elderly run along commercial
lines, home acquires a different set of connotations and a different moral dimension. Under the new regime, the hearth and haven associations of home will be
William Trevor: Revaluations
replaced by confinement and abandonment, in another instance of how place
expresses a dichotomy between designation and actuality.9
In its original form, however, the boarding house is the first ‘improvised
community’10 – pub, hospital, hotel – used by Trevor as venues of London life.
Such venues are half
Does an ugly face reveal a corrupt
soul? Answers to this question in early modern England are strikingly
various. Towards the earlier part of the era, the term
‘character’ refers to ‘a face or features as
betokening moral qualities’. 2 Persuading Techelles to join his camp,
Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, for instance, states that ‘by
characters graven in thy brows/And by thy
. Crucial is the idea that the moral qualities
of the novel as a genre lie in the sphere of characterisation. Why this is
important for a reading of Masters’s work is something Bryden can show us.
‘The bitter winter after Suez’
In 1961 Ronald Bryden published a short article on Masters’s fiction in
The London Magazine, which effectively constitutes a ‘confession’. Avowedly
anti-imperialist in their politics, he and his friends were not the obvious
audience for Masters’s writing and yet, in the late 1950s, having made his way
through the first tranche of Fleming’s Bond