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Shakespeare and the Sexologists

Alicia Meyer, Curator, Research Services, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts

This event has already occurred

November 10, 2023, 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Open to the Public

Hosted by: Kislak Center

Logo of mermaid for The Best Plays of the Old Dramatists

This talk will focus on the literary pursuits of Havelock Ellis and a coterie of Victorian sexologists, printers, and scholars who created the original Mermaid Series of Old Dramatists.

The Mermaids series is best known for making affordable paperback editions of Renaissance plays. Under Ellis, debates on obscenity and censorship embroiled the series. Despite its scandals, Mermaids was pivotal to constructing “classic,” canonical English Literature in the twentieth century. This talk returns to the life and afterlife of Ellis’ Mermaids series. Alicia Meyer asks: what impact did the sexologists’ have on publishing, reading, and teaching Renaissance literature? Do sexological constructions of gender and sexuality live on in Renaissance studies? And, what can the history of Mermaids tell us about book-banning and “obscenity” today?

Featured image: Logo image for The Mermaid Series of The Best Plays of the Old Dramatists: John Ford (1888), edited by Havelock Ellis.