Reading: Jillian Keenan

David Locke Hall
Jillian Keenan

Sex with Shakespeare: Here's Much to Do with Pain, but More with Love  

May 23 at 7:00pm
A provocative, moving, kinky, and often absurdly funny memoir about Shakespeare, love, obsession, and spanking.

When it came to understanding love, a teenage Jillian Keenan had nothing to guide her—until a production of The Tempest sent Shakespeare’s language flowing through her blood for the first time. In Sex with Shakespeare, she tells the story of how the Bard’s plays helped her embrace her unusual sexual identity and find a love story of her own.

Four hundred years after Shakespeare’s death, Keenan’s smart and passionate memoir brings new life to his work. With fourteen of his plays as a springboard, she explores the many facets of love and sexuality—from desire and communication to fetish and fantasy. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Keenan unmasks Helena as a sexual masochist—like Jillian herself. In Macbeth, she examines criminalized sexual identities and the dark side of “privacy.” The Taming of the Shrew goes inside the secret world of bondage, domination, and sadomasochism, while King Lear exposes the ill-fated king as a possible sexual predator. Moving through the canon, Keenan makes it abundantly clear that literature is a conversation. In Sex with Shakespeare, words are love.

As Keenan wanders the world in search of connection, from desert dictatorships to urban islands to disputed territories, Shakespeare goes with her —and provokes complex, surprising, and wildly important conversations about sexuality, consent, and the secrets that simmer beneath our surfaces.

“Calling this book brave is an understatement. We often talk about other people’s kinks, but rarely does someone open up about their own kinks—and really own their kinks—as fearlessly as Jillian Keenan does in her moving and funny memoir. This book will help people, and this book will entertain people. And Keenan’s original takes on Shakespeare are just as fascinating and insightful as her takes on sex, lust, and love. Fans (kinky or not) of Shakespeare will love reading this book, and anyone directing Shakespeare should be required to read it.”--Dan Savage, columnist, “Savage Love,” and author most recently of American Savage

“Visceral, funny, and perceptive, this startling and very personal take on Shakespeare is genuinely revealing—not only about the author, but even more about the plays. Keenan notices and responds to things that criticism on the whole ignores. An enjoyable and impressive book.” —Stephen Orgel, Ph.D., Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor in Humanities at Stanford University and author of Imagining Shakespeare

"Keenan serves up a smart, sexy cocktail of a memoir that is one part spanking fetish, another part Shakespeare, and goes down like a dirty martini that leaves the reader both shaken and stirred."—Ian Kerner, Ph.D., author of She 

Jillian Keenanholds degrees from Stanford University, and has written for the New York Times, The New Yorker, Washington Post, Slate, Foreign Policy, Playboy, National Geographic, Marie Claire, The Atlantic, Scientific American, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and other publications. She lives in New York City.
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