Kaigetsudō Doshin (Japanese, active 1711-1736). Courtesan Writing a Letter. ca. 1715. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Courtesan's Arts: Cross-Cultural Perspectives by Martha Feldman (Editor); Bonnie Gordon (Editor)Courtesans, hetaeras, tawaif-s, ji-s--these women have exchanged artistic graces, elevated conversation, and sexual favors with male patrons throughout history and around the world. In Ming dynasty China and early modern Italy, exchange was made through poetry, speech, and music; inpre-colonial India through magic, music, chemistry, and other arts. Yet like the art of courtesanry itself, those arts have often thrived outside present-day canons and modes of transmission, and have mostly vanished without trace. The Courtesan's Arts delves into this hidden legacy, while touching on its equivocal relationship to geisha. At once interdisciplinary, empirical, and theoretical, the book is the first to ask how arts have figured in the survival or demise of courtesan cultures by juxtaposing research fromdifferent fields. Among cases studied by writers on classics, ethnomusicology, anthropology, and various histories of art, music, literature, and political culture are Ming dynasty China, twentieth-century Korea, Edo and modern Japan, ancient Greece, early modern Italy, and India, past and present.Refusing a universal model, the authors nevertheless share a perception that courtesans hover in the crevices of space, time, and practice--between gifts and money, courts and cities, subtlety and flamboyance, feminine allure and masculine power, as wifely surrogates but keepers of culture. Whatmost binds them to their arts in our post-industrialized world of global services and commodities, they find, is courtesans' fragility, as their cultures, once vital to civilizations founded in leisure and pleasure, are now largely forgotten, transforming courtesans into national icons or historicalcuriosities, or reducing them to prostitution.
Location: Mugar Stacks HQ111 .C68 2006 and Online
Publication Date: 2006
Concubines and Courtesans: Women and Slavery in Islamic History by Matthew S. Gordon (Editor); Kathryn A. Hain (Editor)Concubines and Courtesans contains sixteen essays that consider, from a variety of viewpoints, enslaved and freed women across medieval and pre-modern Islamic social history. The essays bring together arguments regarding slavery, gender, social networking, cultural production (songs, poetryand instrumental music), sexuality, Islamic family law, and religion in the shaping of Near Eastern and Islamic society over time. They range over nearly 1000 years of Islamic history - from the early, formative period (seventh to tenth century C.E.) to the late Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal eras(sixteenth to eighteenth century C.E.) - and regions from al-Andalus (Islamic Spain) to Central Asia (Timurid Iran). The close, common thread joining the essays is an effort to account for the lives, careers and representations of female slaves and freed women participating in, and contributing to, elite urban society of the Islamic realm. Interest in a gendered approach to Islamic history, society and religionhas by now deep roots in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. The shared aim of the essays collected here is to get at the wealth of these topics, and to underscore their centrality to a firm grasp on Islamic and Middle Eastern history.
Publication Date: 2017
Servants of the Dynasty: Palace Women in World History by Anne Walthall (Editor)Mothers, wives, concubines, entertainers, attendants, officials, maids, drudges. By offering the first comparative view of the women who lived, worked, and served in royal courts around the globe, this work opens a new perspective on the monarchies that have dominated much of human history. Written by leading historians, anthropologists, and archeologists, these lively essays take us from Mayan states to twentieth-century Benin in Nigeria, to the palace of Japanese Shoguns, the Chinese Imperial courts, eighteenth-century Versailles, Mughal India, and beyond. Together they investigate how women's roles differed, how their roles changed over time, and how their histories can illuminate the structures of power and societies in which they lived. This work also furthers our understanding of how royal courts, created to project the authority of male rulers, maintained themselves through the reproductive and productive powers of women.