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John Boswell (1) (1947–1994)

Autor(a) de Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality

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6+ Works 2,489 Membros 24 Críticas

About the Author

John Boswell (1947-94) was the A. Whitney Griswold Professor of History at Yale University and the author of The Royal Treasure, The Kindness of Strangers, and Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe.
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Obras por John Boswell

Associated Works

Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past (1989) — Contribuidor — 697 exemplares
Homosexuality in the Priesthood and the Religious Life (1989) — Contribuidor — 43 exemplares
The New Salmagundi Reader (1996) — Contribuidor — 3 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum



Both highly praised and intensely controversial, this brilliant book produces dramatic evidence that at one time the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches not only sanctioned unions between partners of the same sex, but sanctified them--in ceremonies strikingly similar to heterosexual marriage ceremonies.
PendleHillLibrary | 8 outras críticas | Aug 22, 2023 |
Using old records and tales, Boswell traces one of the main fates of unwanted children: abandonment. From antiquity through the end of the Middle Ages, European parents of every social standing, in every circumstance (from rape to incest to adultery to married couples), abandoned or sold their children, in expectation that they would be adopted or raised elsewhere. The rates were highest from the late Roman Empire (beginning around 250 AD) through the eleventh century, dipped during the next two prosperous centuries, and then started to rise again around 1200. "At no point did European society as a whole entertain serious sanctions against the practice. Most ethical systems, in fact, either tolerated or regulated it...Christianity may well have increased the rate of abandonment, both by insisting more rigidly than any other moral system on the absolute necessity of procreative purpose in all human sexual acts, and by providing, through churches and monasteries, regular and relatively humane modes of abandoning infants..." The main change in abandonment from antiquity to the Middle Ages is that with increasing worth put upon lineage and birth, adoption of abandoned children decreased in both rate and the value people placed upon it. Before, adopting a child meant that the parent-child bond was even more powerful, since it was chosen; after, adopted child-parent bonds were considered inferior. During antiquity, children survived via the kindness of individuals, and added to a parents' glory. Later, they were usually given to the Catholic church as oblates, were they were forced to live the rest of their lives as monks or nuns. In the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, European cities created foundling hospitals, which took in hundreds of infants a year but killed most of them through communicable disease.

Boswell lays out his arguments, interpretations, and sources with meticulous detail and a wonderfully dry, sarcastic style. See my status updates for statistics or anecdotes that particularly struck me.
… (mais)
wealhtheowwylfing | 4 outras críticas | Feb 29, 2016 |
The conclusions of this book are now controversial, but when I read it, it opened up a whole new world to me. Before reading this book, I had thought of cultures as being fairly uniform and ideas changing only over time. This made me aware that people in different circumstances can think about things very differently and that your willingness to be tolerant might have to do with your social circumstances. This informed much of my reading from then on.
aulsmith | 9 outras críticas | Apr 18, 2014 |
John Boswell writes "From Roman times to the late Middle Ages, children were abandoned throughout Europe...in great numbers, by parents of every social standing, in a great variety of circumstances." If this passage evokes images of suffering, despair and death, Boswell postulates that from the standpoint of the family and social contexts (if not from the standpoint of children from their social niche and limiting their chances of marriage and reproduction, it curtailed the number of heirs without actually eliminating OH, really?] the children." Abandonment allowed parents " to correct for gender, shift unwanted children to situations where they were desired or valued.." The practice was widespread. Rousseau bragged of throwing his five children to foundling homes. ( “Rousseau wrote that he persuaded Thérèse to give each of the newborns up to a foundling hospital, for the sake of her "honor")* Children were regarded as property' in Roman times and the father had absolute authority. Christian parents, too, abandoned children, although many were concerned lest the fathers later risk incest upon meeting their daughters unknowingly in the local brothel! Boswell suggested the church unwittingly encouraged abandonment by its emphasis on procreative sexuality and its opposition to abortion and infanticide.

It seems to me that abandonment should be viewed less as demographic and cultural relief mechanism, than as a social disaster. By the early 15th century when evidence becomes more substantial we learn rates of mortality in and out of orphanages were very high. Certainly the religious institutions of the times must bear a large share of the blame for not encouraging a sense of individual responsibility. They supported profligate procreation rather than careful recreation. There is a lesson in that which we as a society have yet to learn.
… (mais)
ecw0647 | 4 outras críticas | Sep 30, 2013 |



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