I Have Devoted My Life to the Clitoris

I Have Devoted My Life to the Clitoris
Elizabeth Hall

2017 Lambda Literary Award Finalist
& Small Press Distribution Bestseller

Essay / Memoir | 5.25″x8″, 98 pp | Paperback | July 2016.

Cover art by Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, courtesy of the Artist and Jenkins Johnson Gallery.

$14 includes shipping in the US
(vs. $16 + $3.99 shipping elsewhere)

Elizabeth Hall began writing I Have Devoted My Life to the Clitoris in the summer of 2010 after reading Thomas Laqueur’s Making Sex. She was particularly struck by Laqueur’s bold assertion: “More words have been shed, I suspect, about the clitoris, than about any other organ, or at least, any organ its size.” How was it possible that Hall had been reading compulsively for years and never once stumbled upon this trove of prose devoted to the clit? If Lacquer’s claim was correct, where were all these “words”? And more: what did size have to do with it? Hall set out to find all that had been written about the clit past and present. As she soon discovered, the history of the clitoris is no ordinary tale; rather, its history is marked by the act of forgetting.

In her marvelously researched and sculpted essay/memoir, Elizabeth Hall convinces me that clitoral stimulation is my birthright, a supreme act reaching back to the origins of sensation, connecting me to all my animal sisters: artist, poet, hyena, dolphin. What a thrilling world Hall constructs, her bulleted points rat-tat-tatting the patriarchy, strobing with pleasure.

— Dodie Bellamy, author of When the Sick Rule the World and Cunt Norton

The unfolding of relationships between, among many other details, Freud, terra cotta cunts, hyenas, anatomists, and Acker, mixed with a certain slant of light on a windowsill and a leg thrown open invite us into this intricately structured catalogue of clit. “I started with a question: what does the body want? And ended with: it wants.” The investigation does not stop there. Elizabeth Hall’s prose builds quietly into a denouement that is as cerebral and corporeal as it is bawdy and beautiful.

— Wendy C. Ortiz, author of Excavation: A Memoir and Hollywood Notebook

“I am never bored by a body,” says Elizabeth Hall, in this gorgeous little book about a gorgeous little organ. Hall’s restless unearthing of the clitoris’s hidden history mines discourses as varied as sexology, plastic surgery, literature and feminism to produce an eye-opening compendium, stitched together with wit, lyricism and desire. In this spirited collection of telling details and revelatory insights, the “tender button” finally gets its due.

— Janet Sarbanes, author of People of the Pancake and Army of One

“God this book is glorious. I’m so grateful to Elizabeth Hall for her devotion–scholarly and bodily– alive in this rigorous, lyrical exploration of a most under-written organ. In this far-ranging meditation and investigation, Hall moves elegantly from Marie Bonaparte to the female hyena to contemporary heroes like Kathy Acker and Holly Hughes, asking over and over again: what is it to have a body? How do we read our way into and through that body? Hall shows us how, in dizzying, thrilling detail; you will learn and laugh and wonder why it took you so long to find this book. ”

— Suzanne Scanlon, author of Her 37th Year, An Index and Promising Young Women

An orgy of information…. The luxury of lingering in pleasure is what Hall’s book gives its readers, not only because the subject is at once sexy and scientifically compelling, but because it is rendered with graceful care, delivering in small bites an investigation of the clit that is simultaneously a meditation on the myriad ways in which smallness hides power.

— Allie Rowbottom, The Rumpus

I promise, you need to read this book…. For everyone who has ever questioned what it is to seek without being able to stop. Reading the book feels like coming: you have to keep going, because if you don’t you’ll never reach a conclusion, will never really understand what is happening, will never really be able to put a word to the feeling, to the takeover, to the need.

— Rachel Charlene Lewis, Maudlin House

Hall can evoke in her reader’s mind questions about many things including: the limits and potentials of language, the indeterminacy and implications of sexual difference, and the culturally relative, socially constructed and situated nature of science and ethics. But, Hall does this without the esoteric, overly-academic tone usually associated with these topics…. After all, it’s a book about fucking, and coming. It’s fun to read….

— Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon, Full Stop

Let yourself yelp while reading. When I learned that spotted hyenas have sex through their clits, so penetration “requires a great deal of patience and precision” and “forced copulations are impossible,” I scrawled ANTI-RAPE CLITS!!! across the margin and texted my bestie, “OMG, dude—hyenas have anti-rape clits!” with knife and tongue emojis punctuating my excitement. Yeah, this is that kind of book.

— Claudia Cortese, Muzzle


excerpts from I Have Devoted My Life to the Clitoris

Among Margins: an Anthology of Aesthetics | Best Experimental Writing | LIT | P-QUEUE  |  Tarpaulin Sky




Tour dates for I Have Devoted My Life to the Clitoris

(reverse chronology)

10 October 2017 : San Francisco, CA
Elizabeth Hall at Litquake Festival
Vesuvio Bar
255 Columbus Ave

26 August 2017: San Francisco, CA
Elizabeth Hall with Kristin Sanders
7:30pm at Green Apple Books
1231 9th Ave.

25 August 2017: Los Angeles, CA
Release of Kristin Sanders’s CUNTRY
with Elizabeth Hall, Myriam Gurba, Danielle Pafunda, and Vi Khi Nao
7:30pm at Other Books

1 August 2017: Toronto, ON
Elizabeth Hall Reading + Interview with Sex City Radio
11:00pm on CIUT 89.5 FM

15 April 2017: Boulder, CO
Steven Dunn hosts Vi Khi Nao, Elizabeth Hall, and Caroline Swanee Swanson
4pm – 5pm MT
Innisfree Bookstore and Cafe
1301 Pennsylvania Ave

6 March 2017 : Los Angeles, CA
Lambda Lit Fest Off-Site – Yes Femmes
ft. Elizabeth Hall
7 pm @ Pieter
420 W Avenue 33

16 February 2017: Amherst, MA
Elizabeth Hall w/ Melissa Buzzeo and LA Warman
7pm – House Reading

15 February 2017: Providence, RI
Claire Donato & Elizabeth Hall
7pm @ The Empty Room

11 February 2017: Washington DC
AWP Off-Site w/ Action Books, Calamari Archive, Per Second Press, and Tarpaulin Sky
ft. Claire Donato, Johannes Göransson, & Elizabeth Hall
7pm @ Rhizome
6950 Maple St NW

26 January 2017: New Orleans, LA
Dogfish Reading Series
ft. Elizabeth Hall & Sherrie Flick
2448 N Villere St

3 December 2016: Los Angeles, CA
Amina Cain, Myriam Gurba, Elizabeth Hall, Vi Khi Nao
7pm at The Pop Hop
5002 York Blvd

4 Nov 2016: Athens, GA
Elizabeth Hall, Melissa Buzzeo, & TBD
493 Prince Ave

29 October 2016: Chicago, IL
Erik Anderson, Elizabeth Hall, and Phillip Williams
7pm @ Sector 2337
2337 N Milwaukee Ave

28 October 2016: Montclaire, NJ
Elizabeth Hall
11:30 am @ Cohen Lounge in Dickson Hall
Montclaire State University
1 Normal Ave

27 October 2016: Brooklyn, NY
Claire Donato, Elizabeth Hall, Amy King, Vi Khi Nao, and Laura Warman
8pm @ Molasses Books
770 Hart St

26 October 2016: Philadelphia, PA
Elizabeth Hall, Gina Meyers, Cynthia Dewi Oka, and Nicole Steinberg
7:30pm @ Tattooed Mom
530 South St.




9 July 2016: Los Angeles, CA
LA Book Launch with Myriam Gurba, Elizabeth Hall, and Wendy C. Ortiz
7:30 pm @ Poetic Research Bureau
951 Chung King Rd

26 June 2016: Los Angeles, CA
Sumarr Reading Series
with Myriam Gurba, Elizabeth Hall, Kenyatta Hinkle, Ani Raya-Flores
and music by Emily Lacy
3pm @ Pop-Hop Books & Print
5002 York Blvd, Highland Park

9 June 2016: Portland, OR
Elizabeth Hall with Evelyn Hampton & Jason Snyder
7pm at Ristretto Roasters
555 NE Couch St.

8 June 2016: Eugene, OR
Elizabeth Hall with Evelyn Hampton & Jason Snyder
Good Clean Love
1480 Charnelton St.

3 June 2016: San Francisco, CA
Elizabeth Hall with Teresa K. Miller and Jordan Okumura
7:30pm at Green Apple Books
1231 9th Ave.

29 May 2016: Portland, OR
Elizabeth Hall with Jamondria Harris, Amy Lam, A.M. O’Malley, Robert Torres
5pm at Valentine’s
232 SW Ankeny St.

1 April 2016: Los Angeles, CA
AWP Offsite Reading
Anomalous, Drunken Boat, Goldline, Noemi, Ricochet, Shearsman, Tarpaulin Sky
Brent Armendinger, Cameron Awkward-Rich, drea brown, Kirstin Chen, Maxine Chernoff, Shira Dentz, Scott Esposito, Carrie Etter, Elisabeth Frost, Temim Fruchter, Chloe Garcia-Roberts,Dana Green, A. Kendra Greene, Elizabeth Hall,  Sandra Hunt, Grace Shuyi Liew, Deborah Meadows, Nathan Parker, Kim Parko, and Tim Tomlinson
6:30 at Opodz in Little Tokyo
362 East 2nd St.

31 March 2016: Los Angeles, CA
AWP Offsite Reading
Denver Quarterly, Dorothy, and Tarpaulin Sky
Cathy Linh Che, Ching-In Chen, Claire Donato, Dana Green, Elizabeth Hall, Manuel Paul Lopez, Kim Parko, and Suzanne Scanlon
7:15 at Pieter in Lincoln Heights
420 W Ave 33, Unit 10


about author Elizabeth Hall

Elizabeth Hall lives on a crumbling bluff in San Pedro, California. She is the author of the chapbook Two Essays (eohippus labs), and plays bass in the band Pine Family.

read more at our author page for Elizabeth Hall

about cover artist Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle

Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle is an award winning interdisciplinary visual artist, writer and performer. Her practice fluctuates between collaborative projects with alternative spaces to projects that are intimate and based upon private experiences in relationship to historical events and contexts. Her artwork and experimental writing has been exhibited at The Studio Museum in Harlem, Project Row Houses, The Hammer Museum and The Museum of Art at The University of New Hampshire. Hinkle’s work has been reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Artforum, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post and The New York Times.