Exploring sex and sexuality in literature

Research output: Other contribution

Abstract

Literary Review, a cornerstone of British public life, inaugurated the “Bad Sex in Fiction Award” in 1993, a prize for the most embarrassing or poorly written sex scene in an otherwise well written new novel. The dubious honour has been bestowed on many a feted author since then. Critics of the award have argued that literary sex scenes are, by definition, embarrassing. Depictions of sex in literature are of course not new. How has sex, the most primal and yet most private of human activities, been depicted in English literature through the ages? Through the centuries writers have attempted to write about sex euphemistically, metaphorically and graphically. From Geoffrey Chaucer’s ribald tales and Shakespeare’s thinly veiled line in Othello – “an old black ram is tupping your white ewe” to Zadie Smith’s explicit depictions of sex in her 2005 novel, On Beauty, the portrayal of sex and sexuality in literature has a long and fascinating history. This lecture will explore this history and its implications by looking at some representative samples. Copyright © 2016 The Hong Kong Institute of Education.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

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Sexuality
History
William Shakespeare
Portrayal
Writer
Public Life
Othello
English Literature
Fiction
Ewe

Bibliographical note

Banerjee, B. (2016, March). Exploring sex and sexuality in literature. Seminars conducted at The English you didn't learn in school IV: Making grammar meaningful, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong, China.