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    Early Victorian moral anxiety and the queer legacy of the Eighteenth-Century Gothic revival

    Janes, Dominic (2015) Early Victorian moral anxiety and the queer legacy of the Eighteenth-Century Gothic revival. In: Willem Jones, T. and Matthews-Jones, L. (eds.) Material Religion in Modern Britain. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 125-143. ISBN 9781349566150.

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    This chapter explores some of the reasons for the concern, which at times bordered on obsession, on the part of both the Catholic convert A. W. N. Pugin and the Anglican leadership of the Cambridge Camden Society (later the Ecclesiological Society) to establish the moral probity of churches built and decorated in the Gothic style. The answers, I will suggest, involve a striking combination of concerns over wealth, pleasure, and sexual morality. Satirical cartoons of the early 1850s regularly associated Gothic adornments with the feminine amusements of rich women play-acting at being nuns and of their foppish male counterparts. Such anti-Catholic anxieties drew considerable energy from the reception of the eighteenth-century Gothic Revival as having been heavily imbued with the sensational tastes in the Gothic literary mode of men such as Horace Walpole. It can be suggested that much of the Gothic taste of that earlier period had been so predicated on issues of sexual transgression that it could be understood as amounting—at least, on occasion—to a form of queer self-expression. I will argue that the early Victorian campaign to ensure the artistic and moral purity of material Gothic needs to be interpreted in the light of the queerness of many aspects of the preceding Gothic Revival as seen in the context of literary popular culture.


    Item Type: Book Section
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Research Centres and Institutes: Gender and Sexuality, Birkbeck (BiGS), Social Research, Birkbeck Institute for (BISR)
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2016 14:39
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:24


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