Is the Fundament a Grave?
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Is the Fundament a Grave? book
In a widely cited essay, Leo Bersani has recently asked whether the rectum is a grave-the grave of the self, the burial of "proud subjectivity" he sees literalized in, or at least exacerbated by responses to, the AIDS epidemic. I The present essay seeks in part to ask whether the rectum-or, as it will be my
habit to write for the next few pages, the fundament-was, as inescapably as it seems to be for Bersani, a grave, a loss of subjectivity, in early modern England as well. I want to make explicit at the outset that-in what I see as merely preliminary to a broader investigation-my discussion will focus largely on men. But, following a number of important treatments of sexuality in the early modern period, I mean explicitly not to restrict the range of this discussion to "homosexuals"; it will be a contention of this essay that, in an era before the invention of the homo/hetero divide,2 a consideration of the fundament is relevant to the bodily structures and practices of men generally.