Is the fundament a grave?

Jeffrey Masten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

8 Scopus citations


In a widely cited essay, Leo Bersani has recently asked whether the rectum is a grave-the grave of the self, the burial of "proud subjectivity" he sees literalized in, or at least exacerbated by responses to, the AIDS epidemic. I The present essay seeks in part to ask whether the rectum-or, as it will be my habit to write for the next few pages, the fundament-was, as inescapably as it seems to be for Bersani, a grave, a loss of subjectivity, in early modern England as well. I want to make explicit at the outset that-in what I see as merely preliminary to a broader investigation-my discussion will focus largely on men. But, following a number of important treatments of sexuality in the early modern period, I mean explicitly not to restrict the range of this discussion to "homosexuals"; it will be a contention of this essay that, in an era before the invention of the homo/hetero divide,2 a consideration of the fundament is relevant to the bodily structures and practices of men generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Body in Parts
Subtitle of host publicationFantasies of Corporeality in Early Modern Europe
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781136050220
ISBN (Print)0415916941, 9780415916936
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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