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Playing DirtySexuality and Waste in Early Modern Comedy$
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Will Stockton

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816674596

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816674596.001.0001

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The Wandering Anus

The Wandering Anus

(p.1) 1 The Wandering Anus
Playing Dirty

Will Stockton

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter argues for the psychoanalytic concepts of neurosis and repression in the study of comedy and sexuality. It identifies the foundational role of repression in Jonsonian comedy, as a civilizing process working in light of repressing the pleasure of excrementality. Through a reading of Jonson’s poem “On the Famous Voyage” and Sir John Harington’s Metamorphosis of Ajax, the author theorizes a humanist “homopoetics,” a poetics of male linguistic facility opposed to feminine forms of rhetorical waste, following two reformations English Renaissance: the humanist reformation of language and the legal reformation of waste management systems. Homopoetic efforts to sanitize language falter on the exercise of wit as a dually educated and dirty manipulation of meaning. By establishing an exposure and differentiation of excrement, homopoetic discourse likewise establishes a masculine position of control over a promiscuous, feminine rhetorical mode.

Keywords:   homopoetics, comedy, sexuality, neurosis, repression, Renaissance, excrement

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