WOLFSKINS AND TOGAS: LESBIAN AND GAY HISTORICAL FICTIONS, 1870 TO THE PRESENT
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This thesis examines the role of historical reference in the representation of homosexuality in British literature since the late nineteenth century. The texts it examines are both literal fictions - novels, short stories and poems - and less 'imaginative' forms, such as biography, historiography and sexology: its main project is to disentangle the network of discourses facilitating and restricting representation of the homosexual past. It identifies the history of this representation as a series of moments - the turn of the century, the 1930s, the 1950s, for example - when homosexuality was redefined, and lesbian and gay traditions correspondingly reinvented. This continual reinvention was often the work of homosexuals themselves:the thesis demonstrates how historical representation has allowed lesbians and gay men to intervene in sexual debate when more obviously 'contemporary' dissident voices were being publicly silenced. Chapters I and 2 examine the invocation of historical example within the late Victorian homophile subculture, and argue that the ancient Greek practice of paiderastia provided tum-of-the-century homosexuals with an affirmative model with which to counter juridical and sexological prescription. Chapters 3 and 4 consider the extent to which Antinous and Sappho became established in the same period as homosexual icons, but were subtly reconstructed by different, sometimes competing, sexual discourses.Subsequent chapters explore the influence of literary models such as Radclyffe Hall's The Well ofLoneliness (1928) upon lesbian historical fiction and biography of the 1930s, and uncover some hitherto forgotten lesbian texts; examine the role of male homosexuality in the women's historical romance of the 1950s; and discuss the homoerotic historical fiction of lesbian authors Mary Renault and Bryher. The final chapter considers recent lesbian and gay historical fiction, and finds reflected in the genre the modem homosexual self-image with all its gender and racial tensions.
AuthorsWaters, Sarah Ann
- Theses