The Erotics of Invisibility

This is paper I wrote on lesbian visibility and eroticism for a class on Renaissance literature and history in 2011. It is very dense– but perhaps still enjoyable.

The role of same-sex erotic desire in Early Modern England is difficult to parse; the primary issue is “invisibility,” an umbrella term to describe the lack of relevant evidence on both a historical and literary level, and its usual role as subtext or subplot within English Renaissance literature[1] One of the few works that deals explicitly with a female same-sex relationship that is both clearly emotional and explicitly erotic is John Donne’s poem “Sappho to Philaenis,” in which he ventriloquizes Sappho addressing her female lover Philaenis and bemoaning their separation. This work, written in the 1590s[2], is remarkable in its explicit and debatably positive portrayal of what today we would read as a lesbian relationship, offering a way in which same-sex female desire could be imagined as both possible and valuable.[3] Invisibility is a crucial factor in explaining the lack of evidence with which to examine Donne’s work, and infuses every scholar’s search for an understanding of female same-sex erotic contact in Early Modern England.[4]

What I argue is that this invisibility of female homosexuality is not merely a result of the historical distance from the period, but rather a consciously acknowledged component of the understanding of female same-sex erotic desire at the time. In “Sappho to Philaenis,” the secrecy and immaculateness of the title characters’ sexual activity operates as one of Donne’s central arguments for the superiority of a female-female sexual relationship. Here, Donne eroticizes invisibility and thereby defines a specific discourse for female homosexuality. In examining other literary and historical visions of female same-sex erotic contact available in Early Modern England, from poetry to gossipy anecdotes to pornography, this eroticization of the hidden or invisible becomes a discernable trope for the imagining of these relationships, so that invisibility (even as it is prescribed by contemporary moralism) loses its conceptual weakness and becomes significant as a free, undefined space.

There is a multiplicity of ways of understanding of how to look at female-female relationships in Early Modern England in the context of modern understandings of sexuality,[5] but I have chosen to focus simply on the representation of erotic and sexual relationships between women. My focus is not on how actual female same-sex relationships might have disguised themselves, but on how female homosexuality was portrayed or conceptualized. Most of the examples of female same-sex erotics included in this paper are written by men, as few women wrote plays, poetry or even personal writing that allude to same-sex desire. These writings, therefore, consist of the evidence for how these encounters could be conceived, rather than how they were truly performed.[6] Concerning the pornographic texts that she covers in her paper “Extraordinary Satisfactions: Lesbian Visibility in Seventeenth-Century Pornography in England,” Toulalan posits that “we should not dismiss these texts as inauthentic expressions of female desire simply because they are written by men.”[7] This idea is important to understanding all male-authored literature or writing about women; the male perspective is a lens to keep in mind, but not a reason to disregard their writing as a whole.

There are three further ideas related to “lesbian” identities that are discussed in conjunction with the classification of female homosexuality in Early Modern England and that this paper will suggest that they have inherently political perspectives that are not essential to this discussion of female same-sex desire: queerness, lesbian self-identification and romantic friendship. Queerness is an important idea for the understanding of how lesbian behavior is non-normative; it does, however, include the implication of a type of transgression, a move that invisibility specifically ignores.[8] Jankowski, Schwarz, and Bly describe in which all female societies and the choice to remain a virgin contain “queer” elements that allow for sexualized readings; these works, however, dismiss the potential for significant same-sex desire if it operates within the bounds of the heterosexual framework.[9] Self-identification as “lesbian” or “homosexual” lacks any clear historical precedent for women in Early Modern England, so it is also not an idea that this paper deals with, since behavior, rather than identity, is crucial to the understanding of female-female sexual contact in Early Modern England.[10] Thirdly, although romantic friendship offers much area to speculate on potential lesbian relationships, an idea that both Shannon and Grise address, unless explicit sexual content is alluded to or imagined, it fails to inform how invisibility acquires erotic meaning for female homosexual relationships.[11] Although all these scenarios and descriptors might have been circumscribed by the silence surrounding female homosexuality, it is only in works that break through this silence that the way in which invisibility operated can be understood.

There is a multiplicity of ways of understanding of how to look at female-female relationships in Early Modern England in the context of modern understandings of sexuality,[12] but I have chosen to focus simply on the representation of erotic and sexual relationships between women. My focus is not on how actual female same-sex relationships might have disguised themselves, but on how female homosexuality was portrayed or conceptualized. Most of the examples of female same-sex erotics included in this paper are written by men, as few women wrote plays, poetry or even personal writing that allude to same-sex desire. These writings, therefore, consist of the evidence for how these encounters could be conceived, rather than how they were truly performed.[13] Concerning the pornographic texts that she covers in her paper “Extraordinary Satisfactions: Lesbian Visibility in Seventeenth-Century Pornography in England,” Toulalan posits that “we should not dismiss these texts as inauthentic expressions of female desire simply because they are written by men.”[14] This idea is important to understanding all male-authored literature or writing about women; the male perspective is a lens to keep in mind, but not a reason to disregard their writing as a whole.

Invisibility has been the guiding word and idea in the discussion of lesbian or female same-sex erotic interactions in Early Modern England, chiefly due to the void in both historical and literary referents. The silence on a historical level can be felt in the lack of court records, usually a font of information on behavior considered immoral.[15] There is only one recorded case of female sodomy, which occurred in 1625 in Scotland, for which the punishment was to separate from each other or face excommunication.[16] The contemporary attitude then could be described thusly: “if no Englishwoman was brought to trial under the sodomy statue, ipso facto no women practiced such behaviors.”[17] The main reason posited for this silence is that “lesbianism was tolerated because it was seen as just another phase in a woman’s sexuality rather than a distinct orientation, and thus it could be easily co-opted into a heterosexual, reproductive framework.”[18] Froide further specifies the way that same-sex erotic behavior is deemed invisible, saying, “The lesbian was invisible, not so much because female-female desire was unacknowledged but because such desire was not threatening to a phallocentric model of sexual intercourse.”[19] In her book The Renaissance of Lesbianism in Early Modern England, Traub assigns names to the two main categories of women who were portrayed as engaging in homosexual behavior in Early Modern England: the tribade, a “masculine” woman sometimes portrayed with a bizarrely enlarged clitoris and always portrayed as a sexual aggressor, and the femme, otherwise known as the “chaste female friend”.[20] The type for whom invisibility was the most significant is the femme, due to the inability to classify her by morphological difference (unlike the tribade); “The femme has operated, both historically and in contemporary culture, as an erotic cipher.”[21] This “erotic cipher” is exactly the type of woman for whom invisibility has erotic significance. In this context, an “erotic cipher” is a figure about whom an understanding of sexuality is entirely unavailable, exactly the type of figure whose desires can and must operate in the realm of invisibility.

In Traub’s and Froide’s readings of the void of information surrounding female same-sex desire, women’s sexuality was entirely circumscribed by the male attitude towards it; invisibility can also be read as a facet of female agency that allows for a certain type of freedom. To Andreadis, silence about female same-sex desire was controlled in part by the women themselves, as women within the structure of heterosexual marriage and procreation “used strategies of silence about sexual practice that allowed them both to acknowledge their erotic desires and to evade opprobrium.”[22] Invisibility, therefore, possesses certain desirable qualities, qualities of concealment that women with unorthodox desires in a patriarchal society might desire to use to their own advantage. This idea of invisibility as something desirable was also extant in the Renaissance, as the 16th century chronicler of court gossip Brantôme suggested that women pursued the secrecy of same-sex relationships “because such affairs do not incur the social scandal off a premarital or adulterous affair with a man or the dangers of abortion or infanticide”.[23] Invisibility and silence, then, offered a secondary, and consciously positive, side of a homosexual relationship and a context wherein Donne used invisibility as an erotic and advantageous element.

In “Sappho to Philaenis,” Sappho’s inability to describe Philaenis and the lack of clarity that surrounds Philaenis’ image suggests an inaccessibility that turns their relationship into a cipher. After bemoaning her impotence in her poetry due to the lack of Philaenis, Sappho says, “Only thine image in my heart doth sit/ But that is wax and fires environ it.”[24] What Sappho is left with, in this scenario, is only her memory, the “image.” The juxtaposition of wax and fire in the following line, however, shows how unstable that very image is. The fires that “environ” her waxen image of her love suggest the imminent destruction of the connection that this image leaves.  Sappho’s description of Philaenis rejects the comparative tradition of the blazon, saying, “Thou art not soft, and clear, and straight, and fair/ as Down, as Stars, Cedars and Lilies are,/ But thy right hand, and cheek, and eye, only/ Are like thy other hand, and cheek, and eye (21-24)[25]. Sappho chooses not to compare her love to the natural elements that hold the qualities that Philaenis possesses. Philaenis, then, is indescribable, and therefore irreplaceable. The difficulty that Sappho finds in recreating Philaenis in words reflects the way in which their whole relationship operates outside of the traditional heterosexual framework for which the lyric poetic technique is usually used. This blurring of Philaenis’ body and the ability of Sappho to capture it introduces the idea of their relationship as difficult to capture or parse.

The moment in which invisibility plays an overt role in “Sappho and Philaenis” offers an argument for the superiority of homosexual love that is explicitly both undetectable and erotic. Sappho compares the difference between homo- and heterosexual relations when she says, “Thy body is a natural Paradise,/ In whose self, unmanured, all pleasure lies,/ Nor needs perfection; why shouldst thou then/ Admit the tillage of a harsh rough man?” (35-38)[26]. Sappho makes an explicitly Edenic comparison, reminiscent of the way in which female same-sex relations managed often to operate within the scope of chastity, outside of the potentially dangerous realm of “the tillage of a harsh rough man,” an image that evokes both violence and procreation (38)[27]. In this moment, in creating its own world, “lesbianism becomes a master trope for utopian sexuality in its existential—and even, at some telling points, its societal—implications” [28]. The idea of a prelapsarian world in which the body of Philaenis exists, untouched by man, imagines a secret, unreachable world that men and heterosexual sex destroy. Addressing invisibility more directly, Sappho continues, “Men leave behind them that which their sin shows/ And are as thieves traced, which rob when it snows./ But of our dalliance no more signs there are/ Than fishes leave in streams, or Birds in air” (35-42). Sappho again unambiguously addresses the issue of “sin,” comparing the visible evidence of male-female sexual interaction (presumably a broken hymen, pregnancy, or both) to the idiocy of thieves who leave the tracks of their crime in the snow. The snow’s symbolism for purity is not insignificant as it reinforces the idea of a natural innocence. Sappho further explores a natural theme by comparing her movements to fish and birds that move through water and air without leaving any evidence. This is not the first time that Donne used the metaphor of the fish moving untraceably in water— in his verse letterto Henry Wooton, “Sir more than kisses,” he offers him advice about wisely conducting himself with similar  language, saying, “Fishes glide, leaving no print where they pass”[29]. The repetition of this idea of moving without a trace reinforces its importance as a truly desirable attribute. In the use of this image in both cases, the valuable qualities of inconspicuousness become apparent in their ability to bestow a freedom of action, outside of society’s external regulations.

Although this invisibility can be read as a complete failure to signify and therefore a failure to exist in a meaningful manner, it is exactly the assumption that creation or signification is a positive attribute that ignores the way that invisibility can take on a new, positive meaning when it allows for independence from customary strictures. When Holstun characterizes this poem as a part of “the passage of lesbian desire into an inarticulate silence”[30] , he fails to accept the idea that silence is not necessarily failure; within a patriarchal and prescribed society where to be discovered or signify could mean to be separated or silenced, as in the single sodomy case when the partners were ordered to separate, the importance of being able to pursue your desires out of sight becomes more essential. Holstun is also concerned with the lack of production in this erotic encounter:

The love of a lesbian, on the other hand, may be nonpenetrative and so sinless, but it is also insignificant, and thus can align itself only with nature and stasis. [Sappho] is absent even when she is present, for she creates no signs for herself in her love. Lesbianism is more meltingly erotic than nongay love, but it is still voiceless and subordinate”[31].

The assumption that nonpenetrative sex is “insignificant” is a heteronormative assumption that Donne purposely fails to make, talking instead in the voice of Sappho that this relationship possesses qualities and advantages that operate outside of the procreative, heterosexual tradition.

Although Donne’s view of the erotics of the invisibility in “Sappho to Philaenis” is uniquely explicit, this idea of the undetectable connection, the homosexual and the erotic, can be traced in other contemporary writings. Grise agrees on Donne’s similarity to his contemporaries but interprets this similarity entirely differently, writing,

Donne’s Sappho ultimately does not set him apart from other Renaissance representations of her, and more generally, of lesbianism, which typically silence female homosexuality, or assume it to be either an inferior imitation of heterosexuality or a brief phase in the ever-changing sexuality of women [32].

I would argue that Donne does not silence homosexuality in his poem or otherwise undermine its import—instead, the poem’s portrayal of invisibility as a means of agency and an aspect to be celebrated allows us to reexamine invisibility as a concept in other works. In Pontus de Tyard’s 1573 poem “Elegy for One Woman Enamored with Another,” the speaker says, “Alas, Love enthralls me, woman, with woman. Never before has Love slipped into another heart so softly, because intact honor retained her beauty not marked in the least, and the Lover was enjoying the beauty in a subject the same”[33]. Again, in this moment of the speaker’s description of her same-sex desire, the undetectable nature of the relationship is relevant; “intact honor” suggests chastity, but the understanding of female homosexual behavior at the time suggests that this “chastity” would likely imply sexual elements[34]. The fact that this “beauty” is “intact” and “not marked” is offered as a vision of a type of ideal female-female sexual relationship that again gains value in being unperceptable, even if this poem is ultimately tragic.

Although the comparison might seem paradoxical, pornographic writing of the period dealing with female-female couples also works within the same framework of the seen and the unseen that is so central to the idea of purity that both de Tyard and Donne include in their visions of female homosexual desire; it is explicitly erotic, but in the mode of representation includes the idea of necessary secrecy and voyeurism, suggesting that it also deals in the discourse of invisibility surrounding such same-sex intimacy. In the 1660 set of erotic dialogues, The Dialogues of Luisa Sigea by Nicholas Chorier, there is clear sexual contact between the two speakers, Ottavia and Tullia, in the section entitled “The Tribadicon”[35]. The “innocence” of the Ottavia, a young Roman girl about to be married, plays into the entire image of female homoeroticism as a mystery; she responds, “What enigmatical discourse is that?” to her older, married friend Tullia’s statement comparing her feelings for Ottavia to Ottavia’s for her fiancé Caviceo, “As though lovest Caviceo, so I love thee”[36]. In this comparison from Tullia and confusion from Ottavia, the image of how female same-sex attraction is portrayed as a mystery only available to certain women can be discussed, even as we must keep in mind the fiction of this scene as written by a man for the titillation of other men. Tullia also explains the way that this female-female attraction goes unseen, saying, “The newly married girls cover their heads with the same veil as they also cover all the crimes of their lust; under the veil, they conceal themselves the more easily from the sharp eyes of the law and the public”[37]. This imagination of an interaction continues the pattern of female desire within the context of being hidden, this time beneath the respectable veil of marriage, despite their “crimes of lust”. Although Toulalan uses these erotic texts to suggest that “this was a culture in which one woman touching another’s ‘privy parts’ was neither unimaginable, unnameable nor an unusual occurrence after all” (Toulalan, 65), an examination of the facts of this story remind the reader of the presence of a controlling, judgmental public who can be avoided only through secrecy. This text, even imagining a world confined only by the erotic imagination of the author, sees the law and the public as something avoidable only by seeking obscurity, such as that which Donne’s Sappho celebrates.

A historical location for these invisible moments comes in the form of the literal “closet” and the private space that such a room implies. This is especially present in Pierre de Bourdeille, Abbé and Seigneur de Brantôme’s, circa 1585 collection of anecdotes Les vies des dames galantes, one of the most far-reaching reports of female same-sex eroticism (what he called “donna con donna”) from the early modern period. Drouin observes, “Because it is one of the rare rooms of the early modern household that was locked and private, the closet was a perfect location for extra-marital sexuality”[38]. Two of the instances of observed female same-sex erotics in Brantôme’s account occur in these spaces. Brantôme’s reasoning for female-female erotic contact, though far from respectful, still phrases them in the terms of the benefits of it invisibility, saying, “such an excuse may be made for maids and widows for loving these frivolous and empty pleasures, preferring to devote themselves to these and herein relieve their heat of blood than to go with men and get themselves pregnant and come to dishonor”[39]. The determination for female homosexual behavior as “frivolous and empty pleasures” is clearly removing its emotional significance, while emphasizing its availability as a sexual option, desirable through its ability to stay secret. Drouin interprets the fact of Brantome’s knowledge of same-sex female erotic behavior through the accidental break down of the privacy of the closet as a way of reading this sexuality as primarily unseen, saying:

“Early modern lesbian sexuality was able to flourish in the closet where it was usually invisible to the male gaze, except for rare intrusions in which the unsanctioned male viewer attempts to appropriate lesbian sexuality for his own heteroerotic viewing pleasure… This intrusive spying confirms the necessity for lesbian sexuality to be relegated to safe and invisible spaces in which it can flourish unfettered by male invasions and appropriations”[40].

Drouin makes a key connection between invisibility and a “safe” space, further providing evidence for the idea that what is unseen or hidden is controlled by those that obscure themselves. Although this hiding is a “necessity” due to outside male eyes, the idea of a space “unfettered” comes through the pursuit of privacy, an idea that cements the erotic importance of invisibility in female same-sex relationships in the early modern period.

The way in which contemporaries spoke of the historical friendship between Margaret of Austria and Laudomia Forteguerri demonstrates the potential for a discursive space for imagined erotic relationship, unknown and therefore untouchable in its invisibility. In the 1541 dialogue by Agnolo Firenzuola called “On the Beauty of Women,” Firenzuola expands on the Platonic love theory in a contemporary context, including female-female examples[41]. Firenzuola’s male speaker Celso explains:

“Those who were female in both halves, or are descended from those who were, love each other’s beauty, some in purity and holiness, as the elegant Laudomia Forteguerra loves the most illustrious Margaret of Austria, some lasciviously, as in ancient tomes Sappho from Lesbos and in our own times in Rome the great prostitute Cecilia Venetiana. This type of woman by nature spurns marriage and flees from intimate conversation with men.” [42]

In this explanation, a specific contrast between the “purity and holiness” of the relationship between Laudomia Forteguerra and Margaret of Austria and the “lascivious” love of ancient Sappho despite their common categorization as a female partnership that could be read as lesbian. Demonstrating the way in which the unknown quality of the Forteguerri-Margaret relationship allowed multiple contemporary interpretations, Brantôme interprets their friendship as a mask for their erotic relationship. Here Brantôme was reading female friendship and intimacy within an erotic context, as he describes the way that Margaret of Austria hide her relationship with Laudomia Forteguerri, saying, “Only to cover up her naughtiness she did say and publish abroad how that her love for her was a pure and holy love, as we see many of her fellows do, which do dissemble their lewdness with suchlike words”[43]. In this contemporary view of an assumed same-sex relationship, Brantôme, unlike Firenzuola, imagines that this relationship is a sexual one, but continues to emphasize the way a “cover up” is necessary—a cover up that allows Margaret and Laudomia to pursue their desires. An additional commonality between Sappho and Laudomia Forteguerri is the fact of the poems that Forteguerri wrote to Margaret. These poems do not use any specifically erotic language, possibly attributable to the fact that they were considered publishable[44]. The most compelling language for the interpretation of a romantic relationship between the two comes in the final sonnet, when Laudomia says, “Ah cruel Fortune, why do you not arrange it/ For my body to go where my heart goes”[45]. Althouth she could merely be referring to the fact of their separation, the conflict between the their geographical split and her common desires of the heart and body bring to mind the problems of a woman whose heart and body have desires that conflict with the rules of her society. The ability of Laudomia to write these poems, and have them published, was based on the fact that she left their relationship within an undefined space wherein she might be able to have her erotic desires fulfilled.

The way that invisibility functions within Donne’s “Sappho and Philaenis” enables a way that this void becomes a desirable and eroticized state. This condition is not one that is entirely transgressive or powerful; it naturally functions within the frameworks of the patriarchal society wherein marriage and reproduction were expected to be the primary aim of women in Early Modern England while male sexuality was given the most attention. The fact of this space of invisibility was rapidly shrinking as  “whatever the efforts of female friends in the late seventeenth century to ward off suspicions about their affections, rather than effectively protecting themselves from the transgressive signification associated with the tribade, such friends increasingly were in danger of being interpreted from within the terms of tribadism”[46]. The changing understanding of female same-sex eroticism and its increasing visibility, therefore, became a way in which it was further censured rather than one of greater freedom. Although silence and invisibility become lost to history, such space opens up the potential for feelings and actions that defy convention by operating outside of it, just as the imagining of female same-sex desire in Early Modern England can be read as available through the pursuit of the untraceable.


[1] Walen, Denise A. Constructions of Female Homoeroticism on Early Modern Drama. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. 5

[2] Mueller, Janet. “Lesbian Erotics: The Utopian Trope of Donne’s “Sapho to Philaenis”.” Journal of Homosexuality 23.1-2 (1992): 111

[3] Those who take a positive approach are Mueller, Shannon, and Blank in: Mueller; Shannon, Laurie. Sovereign Amity: Figures of Friendship in Shakespearean Contexts. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002; and Blank, Paula. “Comparing Sappho to Philaenis: John Donne’s “Homopoetics”.” PMLA 110.3 (1995): 358-368. Those with a more negative analysis are Corell, Barbara. “Symbolic Economies and zero-sum Erotics: Donne’s “Sapho to Philaenis”.” ELH 62.3 (1995): 487-507; Grise, Annette C. “Depicting Lesbian Desire: Contexts for John Donne’s “Sapho to Phiaenis”.” Mosaic 29.4 (1996): 44; and Holstun, James. “”Will You Rent Our Ancient Love Asunder?”: Lesbian Elegy in Donne, Marvel, and Milton.” ELH 54.4 (1987): 835-867.

[4] Traub, Valerie. The Renaissance of Lesbianism in Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 3.

[5] ibid.,13-35.

[6] ibid., 21

[7] Toulalan, Sarah. “Extraordinary Satisfactios: Lesbian Visibility in Seventeenth-Century England.” Gender & History 15.1 (2003): 55.

[8] Jankowski, 12

[9] Jankowski. 9. Schwarz, Katryn. Tough Love: Amazon Encounters in the English Renaissance. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000; Bly, Mary. Queer Virgins and Virgin Queans on the Early Modern Stage. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

[10] Traub, 14

[11]Shannon, 25; Grise, 50

[12] ibid.,13-35.

[13] ibid., 21

[14] Toulalan, Sarah. “Extraordinary Satisfactios: Lesbian Visibility in Seventeenth-Century England.” Gender & History 15.1 (2003): 55.

[15] Ingram, Martin. Church Courts, Sex and Marriage in England, 1570-1640. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

[16] Traub, 42

[17] ibid,168

[18] Grise, 44

[19] Froide, Amy M. Never Married: Singlewomen in Early Modern England. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005; 73

[20] Traub, 17, 20

[21] ibid., 230

[22] Andreadis, Harriette. Sappho in Early Modern England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001; 1

[23] Traub, 54

[24] Donne, John. “Sappho to Philaenis.” Same-Sex Desire in the English Renaissance: A Sourcebook of Texts, 2470-1650. Ed. Kenneth Borris. New York: Routledge, 2004.

[25] ibid.

[26] ibid.

[27] ibid.

[28] Mueller, 106

[29] Shannon, 95

[30] Holstun, 836

[31] Holstun, 842-843

[32] Grise, 7

[33] de Tyard, Pontus. “Elegy for One Woman Enamored with Another.” Same-Sex Desire in the English Renaissance: A Sourcebook of Texts, 2470-1650. Ed. Kenneth Borris. New York: Routledge, 2004. 330.

[34] Traub, 53

[35] Toulalan, 61

[36] Chorier, Nicholas. The Dialogues of Luisa Sigea. North Hollywood: Brandon House, 1965. 14.

[37] Chorier, 23

[38] Drouin, Jennifer. “Diana’a Band: Safe Spaces, Publics and Early Modern Lesbianism.” Queer Renaissance Historiography: Backward Gaze. Ed. Vin Nardizzi, Stephen Guy-Bray and Will Stockton. Farnham: Ashgate, 2009. 89.

[39] de Bourdeille, Pierre. Les vies des dames gallantes. Same-Sex Desire in the English Renaissance: A Sourcebook of Texts, 2470-1650. Ed. Kenneth Borris. New York: Routledge, 2004. 307-308.

[40] Drouin, 90.

[41] Borris, Kenneth, ed. Same-Sex Desire in the English Renaissance: A Sourcebook of Texts, 1470-1650. New York: Routledge, 2004. 274.

[42] Firenzuola, Agnolo. “On the Beauty of Women.” Same-Sex Desire in the English Renaissance: A Sourcebook of Texts, 2470-1650. Ed. Kenneth Borris. New York: Routledge, 2004. 277.

[43] de Bourdeille, 308.

[44] Borris, 281

[45] Forteguerri, Laudonia. “Sonnet Five.” Same-Sex Desire in the English Renaissance: A Sourcebook of Texts, 2470-1650. Ed. Kenneth Borris. New York: Routledge, 2004. 284.

[46] Traub, 218

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—. The Renaissance of Lesbianism in Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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