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    A new city of friends: London and homosexuality in the 1890s

    Cook, Matt (2003) A new city of friends: London and homosexuality in the 1890s. History Workshop Journal 56 (1), pp. 35-58. ISSN 1363-3554.

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    Homosexuality was repeatedly aligned during the later nineteenth century with a series of urban ‘types’ and spaces, and also with a range of anxieties about the modern metropolis ‐ about degeneration, decadence, excessive consumption and sexual excess, for example. Those attempting to legitimize homosexuality could not wholly sidestep this rhetoric and the insistent urban connection. There was a need to imagine ways of being in the city which allowed affirmative conceptualizations of homosexual subjectivity, community and politics. This paper explores the alternative ways in which Oscar Wilde, romantic socialist Edward Carpenter, classicist John Addington Symonds, and the early campaigner for homosexual law reform George Ives negotiated London in their work. It observes that although there are significant overlaps between the testimonies of these writers, their complex and intersecting ideas about identity, desire and the city ultimately prevent us from discerning either a unitary urban type or a coherent culture of homosexuality in London. In living and describing a homosexual life in the city, the paper concludes, it was as important to chart an independent and personalized mapping as it was to share in a subcultural network of places and experiences.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2016 13:56
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:30


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