Hysterical Literature: Art & Sexuality Collide in Readings of Whitman, Emerson & Other Greats (NSFW)

With­out shame the man I like knows and avows the deli­cious­ness of his sex, 

With­out shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.

Thus spaketh Walt Whit­man in Leaves of Grass. 160 years after that poem’s pub­li­ca­tion, how might that most Amer­i­can of Amer­i­can Roman­tics react to the spec­ta­cle of an attrac­tive young woman plea­sur­ing her­self with his work, as an unseen hand beneath the table sur­rep­ti­tious­ly plea­sures her with the Cadil­lac of vibra­tors?

The peep­hole is much larg­er than it would’ve been in 1855. Hys­ter­i­cal Lit­er­a­ture was con­ceived as an online project in which each session’s fea­tured female par­tic­i­pant choos­es a res­o­nant text, then reads it aloud until a Hitachi Mag­ic Wand puts an end to her abil­i­ty to form coher­ent sen­tences.

Cre­ator Clay­ton Cubitt has com­plained that the orgas­mic ele­ment and the sta­tus of cer­tain celebri­ty par­tic­i­pants like come­di­an Mar­garet Cho  have pre­oc­cu­pied the press. His pref­er­ence is for view­ers to take a more holis­tic approach, view­ing the expe­ri­ence with some “mys­tery and mag­ic and ‘WTF.’”

Accord­ing­ly, let us focus upon some of the select­ed works:

Beloved by Toni Mor­ri­son

Sex­ing the Cher­ry by Jeanette Win­ter­son

The Necrophil­ia Vari­a­tions by Super­vert

Real­ly, no Anaïs Nin? I would’ve thought…

The most recent con­trib­u­tor to the series is also its old­est, 60-year-old Janet, below, who had to take leave of Whitman’s pal, Ralph Wal­do Emer­son, not once but twice in eight min­utes.

Cumu­la­tive­ly, these ses­sions make a mar­velous­ly frank primer for actors or direc­tors charged with cre­at­ing real­is­tic sex scenes. The dichoto­my of Hys­ter­i­cal Lit’s stag­ing ensures that things are fair­ly respectable above the waist, thus sat­is­fy­ing YouTube’s Com­mu­ni­ty Guide­lines.

Dar­ing female lovers of lit­er­a­ture should be advised that Cubitt seeks to include more women of col­or, old­er par­tic­i­pants, and non-Eng­lish texts. No word on who exact­ly is under that table. Drain your pent-up rivers by apply­ing here.

via Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Read Fan­ny Hill, the 18th-Cen­tu­ry Erot­ic Nov­el That Went to the Supreme Court in the 20th Cen­tu­ry

This is Your Brain on Sex and Reli­gion: Exper­i­ments in Neu­ro­science

An Intro­duc­tion to World Lit­er­a­ture by a Cast Of Lit­er­ary & Aca­d­e­m­ic Stars (Free Course)

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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