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Thinking Sexuality Differently: Hartmann von Aue, Michel Foucault, and the Uses of the Past


In the introduction to the second volume of his history of sexuality Foucault suggests that “the effort to think one’s own history” might “free thought from what it silently thinks, and so enable it to think differently”—in this case, presumably, to think differently about sexuality.  Insisting on the historicity of the Arthurian world more resolutely than any of his contemporary romance authors, Hartmann von Aue uses that fictional history to suggest ways of thinking about love (which includes much of what we call sexuality) quite different from the thinking on that subject among his noble audiences.  We can use some of the ideas that Hartmann proposes, which have become part of our history, to help us recognize what we “silently” think about sexuality, and thus free ourselves to think differently.

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