Author's School

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Additional Affiliations

Assistant Professor, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program; Faculty with the Feminist Critical Analysis Seminar

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

Fall 1-1-2008

Originally Published In

Musser, A. J.(2008). Reading, Writing, and the Whip. Literature and Medicine 27(2), 204-222. The Johns Hopkins University Press.


Reading masochism as a literary phenomenon means exploring several layers of relationships—of literature and performance, of textuality and subjectivity—and the relationships among various practices of reading. I start with Krafft-Ebing and his practices of reading, examine the relationship between literature and practice, and end with an exploration of diagnosis and writing. Rousseau's Confessions exemplifies these rich layers, as a text with a life and readership of its own and as writing exercise, and exemplifies what Michel Foucault termed a "technology of the self." The link I am forging between Krafft-Ebing and Foucault's technologies of the self offers a reevaluation of Krafft-Ebing and pre-psychoanalytic studies of sexuality. History has not been kind to Psychopathia Sexualis. Historians of psychiatry describe this compendium of sexual perversity as a footnote in Krafft-Ebing's otherwise illustrious career as a leading Austrian psychiatrist...




Originally published in Literature and Medicine 27, no. 2 (Fall 2008) 204–222 © 2009 by The Johns Hopkins University Press,