Nov 082015

Weiss, Margot. Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality. Duke University Press, 2011. Amazon

You can get an idea of how thought-provoking I found Weiss’ book was by the sheer density of post-its as bookmarks.

Side view of Weiss' Techniques of Pleasure, with many post-its

Side view of Weiss’ Techniques of Pleasure, with many post-its

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Feb 162014

The Kink Realm has a list of daily links for February 2013 and February 2014, on the history of black people in BDSM, including profiles of Viola Johnson and Mollena Williams, discussions of the issues of bottoms with darker skin, Marvin Gaye’s little-known song “Masochistic Beauty”, and more.

I hope to see posts on fetish artist Eugene Bilbrew (aka “Eneg”) and actress/singer Eartha Kitt.

Jul 192013

McInnis, Maurie D. Slaves Waiting for Sale: Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade. University of Chicago Press, 2011

Group of African slaves sitting, waiting for sale, white men in background.

Slaves Waiting for Sale, by Eyre Crowe

This is an excellent work as a reference from the Virigina slave trade in the 1850s. The author includes all kinds of “you are there” details, including clothing and architecture.

Built around work of British artist and journalist Eyre Crowe, who travelled in America in the 1850s as secretary to author William Thackery on a lecture tour.

Crowe read Uncle Tom’s Cabin before he saw any actual slavery, but was moved by it. (Pg.4) Purchased from street book merchant, also selling Thackery’s books. Crowe was “properly harrowed” by the book. (Pg. 19)

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Jun 182013

The first draft of Chapter 5, “The Peculiar Institution”, is now complete and backed up, all 11,000 words of it. It’s about Atlantic slavery and its erotics, and spends a lot of time talking about the master-slave relationship of Hannah Cullwick and Arthur Munby.

Next is Chapter 6, “Class and Classification,” covering the late Victorian flagellant subculture, plus Krafft-Ebing. This is actually in a first draft state already, from years ago, but it is 17,000 words, and I’m trying to keep chapters under 10,000 words or so. I could cut it in two, renaming the first half “The Extraordinary Gentlemen”. However, there’s some redundant material in the chapter as well, and I intend to cut that out, though probably not 7,000 words of it. I will probably cut out the fat and then subdivide into two shorter chapters.

After that comes the early 20th century. This is kind of a lacuna in my research, because I’m not really sure what was going on in the 1900-1950 period. I’d probably mostly talk about film, particularly pre-Hays Code, particularly how American racial anxieties figured in films like Freaks, The Sheik, Frankenstein, the 1931 version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, etc. If there was any kind of formal BDSM subculture at this time, I have yet to find any evidence of it.

Mar 112013

Lynndie-England -Abu-Ghraib-FemdomWell, this had to happen sooner or later. I found this image on the Femdom Artists blog. This is the cover of a Mexican magazine, presumably published sometime in the late 2000s, based on the iconic images of Lynndie England and other American soldiers abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib. “Arrogance and torture in Iraq!” shouts the headline.

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Feb 232013

Django Unchained 2012, writer/director Quentin Tarantino, IMDB

(Spoilers ahead)

Briefly, Django Unchained is about a slave in the Old West, before the Civil War, who is freed by, then partnered with, a German bounty hunter, Dr. Schulz. They set off on a quest (explicitly compared to the German legend of Siegfried/Sigurd) to recover Django’s wife Broomhilda from a plantation known as “Candie Land”.

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Nov 102012

Lott, Eric. Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class. Oxford University Press, 1993. Amazon

In tracing the long and crooked path from the reality of slavery to the fantasy of slavery, I’ve passed through blackface, or more generally whites imitating blacks.

Blackface minstrelsy was a very complex phenomenon. To begin with, it originated in the North East of the United States, not the South, and it was first performed by working-class whites, often Irish, who were perceived as only slightly above blacks in the grand scheme of things. Minstrelsy was an insulting parody of blacks, and an appropriation of black music, songs and dialect; it was also an expression of working-class whites’ anxieties about their precarious position in society, their resentment at efforts to free the black southern slave while leaving the white northern “wage slave” in the same dependent state.

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