The Inverted City: London and the Constitution of Homosexuality, 1885-1914
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This thesis examines the ways in which male homosexuality came to be closely associated with urban life between 1885 and 1914. It focuses on London and argues that particular aspects of the city's history and reputation were integral to the social, sexual and political aspects of emerging homosexual identities. The thesis draws on literature, sexology, the largely overlooked diaries and scrapbooks of George Ives (an early campaigner for homosexual law reform), and previously unexamined newspaper reports. The first chapter outlines changes to London during the period, and examines the intensification of concerns about poverty, degeneracy, decadence and sexual profligacy. The chapters that follow show how these changes and concerns informed understanding and expressions of homosexuality. Chapter two looks at the history of homosexuality in London, and indicates the significance of urban change in shaping patterns of behaviour. Chapter three examines legislation, the ways in which men were policed and surveyed in London, and newspaper accounts of court cases. Chapter four shows how sexology strengthened and elaborated this connection between homosexuality and the city. The last two chapters consider material written by, and explicitly or implicitly concerning, men involved in homosexual activity. Chapter five discusses how the city provided an ideal locale for a decadent understanding of desire, and the final chapter focuses on writing that attempted to counter this decadence with an appeal to Hellenism and pastoralism. It shows how the city was envisaged as a locus for the formation of political and sexual identities that might initiate a process of social change.
AuthorsCook, Matthew David
- Theses