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Vol. 55 no. 4: Spring 2022

Adam Komisaruk, Sexual Privatism in British Romantic Writing: A Public of One

  • Marsha Keith Schuchard
9 April 2022
27 Apr. 2022


Adam Komisaruk examines “the varieties of erotic experience in an age of revolution” (1), covering British writings from c. 1780 to 1830. He posits an overriding theme of the relation between “sexual privatism” and “the public sphere,” and he cites most of the theorists (Habermas, Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, Laqueur, Sedgwick, etc.) whose ideas have long dominated such discourse. He organizes his study “according to some different sexual ‘publics’ in the period: legal treatments of rape, sodomy and adultery; high-profile sex scandal; population theory; and club culture” (7). While a large part of his narration focuses on these modern theoreticians, he also includes thematic readings of imaginative literature by Mary Hays, William Beckford, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Erasmus Darwin, and finally William Blake.