Introduction: Innocence and Rapture

  • Kevin Ohi


Tracing in aestheticist texts the ravished contemplation of the beautiful child, Innocence and Rapture explores the expansive sexual possibilities of aestheticism and its consequent power to interrupt ideologies of sexual normativity. Detailed readings of works by Walter Pater, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov make manifest the eroticism of aesthetic experience in these texts and, with it, their potential to unsettle both critical doxa about aestheticism and the sexual politics animating current panics about childhood sexuality. Aestheticist models of literary language, aesthetic reception, and eroticism, beyond the fascination they exert in a variety of registers, challenge assumptions undergirding ideologies of childhood sexual innocence—ideologies, this book argues, of sexual oppression in general. By asserting the union of this polemical and theoretical argument about sexual politics and a rhetorical reading of aestheticism, this book seeks to underline the theoretical, political, and literary historical interest of an attentive reading of aestheticist style.


Permeability Manifold Coherence Posit Tempo 


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© Kevin Ohi 2005

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  • Kevin Ohi

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