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Queering Lucrezia’s Virtú

A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Radical Machiavelli

Andrés Fabián Henao Castro

This article argues for a feminist reinterpretation of the ‘radical Machiavelli’ tradition which pushes Machiavelli’s performative theory of power towards emancipation. I base my argument on a rereading of Niccolò Machiavelli’s Mandragola, whose historical use of the mandrake legend, I claim, symptomatizes historically gendered forms of labour expropriation characteristic of early modern capitalism. Against the background of that historical contextualisation, I then argue against James Martel’s interpretation of Machiavelli’s theory of open secrets, as one that remains unable to extend to Lucrezia the democratic insights that he identifies in Callimaco and Ligurio’s textual conspiracies. Dialectically relocating the political heroism of this play in Lucrezia’s performance, I conclude, Machiavelli’s comedy becomes nevertheless useful for a subaltern theory of democratic action.

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Nicholas L. Syrett

From the field's very inception, scholars of the queer past have noted, though sometimes in passing, the centrality of age asymmetry in structuring how same-sex sex has been understood and practiced. In the foundational work of classicist David

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Bodies, Boundaries and Queer Waters

Drowning and Prosopopæia in Later Dickens

Vybarr Cregan-Reid

The way in which the judgements of the landmark 1860 case Rylands v. Fletcher employed the English language to attempt some kind of clear notion of liability is representative of a much wider cultural anxiety over the status of water as a live, conscious and capriciously dangerous agent. I will suggest that the Victorians' emergent fear of wild and live water represents a kind of cultural imaginary that predetermines Dickens's use of prosopopoeic figurative language. The novels that I will draw upon, principally David Copperfield and Our Mutual Friend, both take the trope of drowning as their focal rhetoric. Because the idea of water being embodied as a feral animal emerged around the 1850s, I will deploy some of Dickens's earlier work that uses the same trope of drowning, but in a more simplified way which envisioned water as the passive recipient of the drownee. As a result of the cultural idea of a live and conscious water, Dickens's later novels and journalism can be seen to be exploring an inherently queer notion of intersubjectivity; as the drownee meets their fate, their body's boundaries become permeable, they and the water which 'takes' them become intermingled. The water takes their life and it dissolves their identity. Dickens's later work and Rylands v. Fletcher both play their part in articulating this wider cultural anxiety and phenomenological presence of water as live monstrosity. Moreover, Dickens's use of water as embodied, raging and stampeding agent, raises some fascinating questions surrounding the taboo nature of gender, sexuality and subjectivity in Victorian culture.

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Doing Queer Love

Feminism, AIDS, and History

Lisa Diedrich

In this essay, I utilize the concept of the echo, as formulated in the historical and methodological work of Michel Foucault and Joan W. Scott, to help theorize the historical relationship between health feminism and AIDS activism. I trace the echoes between health feminism and AIDS activism in order to present a more complex history of both movements, and to try to think through the ways that the coming together of these two struggles in a particular place and time—New York City in the 1980s—created particular practices that might be effective in other times and places. The practice that I focus on here is one that I call 'doing queer love'. As I hope to show, 'doing queer love' both describes a particular history of health activism and opens up the possibility of bringing into being a different future than the one a conventional history of AIDS seems to predict. It is an historical echo that I believe we must try to hear now, not just in order to challenge a particular history of AIDS activism in the United States, but also in order to provide a model that can be useful for addressing the continuing problem of AIDS across the globe.

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The Kids Are All Right But the Lesbians Aren't

The Illusion of Progress in Popular Film

Vicki L. Eaklor

The film The Kids Are All Right, centered on a lesbian couple and their two teenage children, was released in 2010 following a media blitz selling it as a groundbreaking film. Many queer viewers (like this author) eagerly awaited this supposed step forward in lesbian representation, only to be disappointed once again by mainstream stereotypes and tropes. This article takes a close look at the film against the backdrop of lesbian images and themes in “Hollywood“ films, particularly in the last twenty years, and argues that continuities, while sometimes more subtle, override the illusion of progress in portraying lesbians. Finally, there is speculation about why genuine change in mainstream film may be impossible under current societal and economic systems.

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The Problem of Modern Pederasty in Queer History

A Case Study of Norman Douglas

Rachel Hope Cleves

In a December 2018 state-of-the-field essay titled “The Power of Queer History,” Regina Kunzel itemizes all the ways in which recent scholarship has highlighted sexuality's function as a conduit of power. Her survey, which focuses on US history

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Amanda H. Littauer

communities. 5 Historiographical interpretation of modern intergenerational same-sex relationships is quite limited, even with regard to boys, men, and/or assigned-male-at-birth queer and trans people, for whom there is considerably more documentation than for

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Interiors

Sex and the Body in Dickens

William A. Cohen

Not so long ago, the topic of Dickens and sex might have seemed entirely entailed by Foucault's inquires in the first volume of the History of Sexuality. In that work, Foucault argues that sex is not a biological donnée but is instead an effect of discourse, a culturally variable vehicle for the exercise of power in many different directions. Emerging out of Foucault's studies of social institutions such as prisons and madhouses, the History of Sexuality emphasises the disciplinary imperative of sexual knowledges; it argues that individual subjects internalise surveillance mechanisms, experiencing them through and as their sexuality. One of the beneficiaries of the Foucauldian paradigm, which dominated Victorian literary studies from the late 1980s until recently, was queer theory. Queer theory interrogates rather than presuming identity categories (such as homosexual, lesbian and gay), but it has always sat in an uneasy relation to identity politics, simultaneously relying on and deconstructing stable notions of gender and sexual identity. Some critics have employed queer theory to discover lesbian, gay or queer characters and practices in Victorian literature (not to mention finding more properly nineteenth-century types, such as the hysteric, the onanist and the sodomite). Such projects have often understood the function of sexual representation as part of modernity's more general disciplinary structure.

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Introduction

Dickens and Sex

Holly Furneaux and Anne Schwan

This collection explores the still underrepresented topics of sex, erotics and desire in the work of Charles Dickens. Contributors draw upon and suggest new points of convergence between a wide range of theoretical perspectives including cultural phenomenology, materialism, new historicism, critical race studies, feminist and queer theory. Analysis of a broad range of Dickens’s fiction, journalism and correspondence demonstrates Dickens’s sustained commitment to exploring a diverse range of sexual matters throughout his career.

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'It is impossible to be gentler'

The Homoerotics of Male Nursing in Dickens's Fiction

Holly Furneaux

Eve Sedgwick's Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (1985) has had a hugely enabling impact on gay, lesbian and queer studies, and its two chapters on Dickens do the initially useful work of recognising the existence of alternative sexualities within his work. Yet, Sedgwick insists that Dickens always offers such representations from an inherently homophobic perspective. Though recognising a debt to Sedgwick, this article is strongly committed to demonstrating the fallacy of her influential paradigm that the homoerotic emerges most strongly in Dickens's work through violence. Sedgwickian readings privilege the cultural currency of sexual violence, built up through contemporary modes such as flagellatory pornography. However, other, gentler ways of touching also had highly erotic connotations during the period of Dickens's career. This paper focuses on the Victorian sexualisation of nursing, arguing that Dickens deploys the eroticising of nurse/patient roles in Martin Chuzzlewit and Great Expectations to develop more affirmative, tender strategies for articulating desire between men.