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Sunday, 17 July 2011

Catching up on journal literature and chapters XII

Adrian Ager and Catherine Lee, 'Prostitution in the Medway Towns, 1860-1885', Local Population Studies, 83, 2009, 39-55: a really useful piece on the local factors affecting the extent of prostitution in the Medway towns (the pull factor that there was a major military presence, the push factor that the social make-up of the area was that there was not a huge demand for domestic service and no industries employing women, and also the fact that some of the economic activity of the region, e.g. hopping, was highly seasonal). Show what can be done by looking at an array of source and the possibilities of recreating at least some information about individuals from their encounters with police, prison, poor law institutions, etc . Not sure that this would be possible for London? or would it, if one started focussing in on particular areas - question of whether there was actually a downward eastward shift in the prostitute career (?suggested by Walkowitz I think) over time, or whether they stayed closer to any particular base. There's also the question (this may apply less in an area like the Medway towns) of non-street forms of prostitution in which the women were less publicly visible and disturbing - these are touched on in the 1916 volume Downward Paths as existing but much harder to investigate. Thus, Ager and Lee's confirmation of the poverty/prostitution link may be about one particular form of sex-work. But this is still a really valuable piece of work.

Two papers by Roger Davidson and Gayle Davis, from their detailed and industrious investigation of sexuality and governance in late C20th Scotland: '"A Field for Private Members: The Wolfenden Committee and Scottish Homosexual Law reform, 1950-1967", Twentieth Century British History, 15, 2004, pp 174-201, and '"A Festering Sore on the Body of Society": The Wolfenden Committee and Female Prostitution in mid-C20th Scotland', Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, 24, 2004, pp 80-98: full of dense and juicy material, but the take-home impression is that the Scots thought they were already managing both problems a lot better than the English; and that the level of homophobia was if anything even greater (to the extent that the only way to pass the 1967 Act was to exclude Scotland from its provisions to prevent Scottish MPs from voting against it).

James Vernon, '"For Some Queer Reason": The Trials and Tribulations of Colonel Barker's Masquerade in Interwar Britain', Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 26, 2000, 37-61. A very juicy piece about the problematic 'Colonel Barker' (Valerie Arkell Smith) and the questions it raises about gender. sexual, identity, masquerade, etc at the period, as well as the claiming of Barker by various contemporary groups as a precursor. Lots of resonances with other phenomena of the period (e.g. a trial which becomes less about the main charge of perjury than Barker's masquerade and nature of the 'marriage' - cf Lucy's work, and Stopes vs Sutherland).

Lutz D H Sauerteig and Roger Davidson, Shaping Sexual Knowledge: A Cultural History of Sex Education in C20th Europe (2009)
Intriguing piece from a rather different perspective by Ann Blair and Daniel Monk, 'Sex Education and the Law: The Importance of Legal Narratives' pp 17-51: though again, the tension/boundary between health and the child-in-educational-setting does seem to be significant. Problems of having to obey a set of rules and how  they are interpreted.
Roger Davidson (solo), 'Purity and Pedagogy: The Alliance-Scottish Council and School Sex Education in Scotland, 1955-1967' pp 91-107: role of alliances between official bodies and voluntary organisations - also, the place of specific dedicated individuals who try and get things done - the actual messages (within the standard medico -moral policing context - purity and danger.
Barbara Crowther, 'The Partial Picture: Framing the Discourse of Sex in British Educative Films of the early 1930s' pp 176-196: really not much of a genre for the period in question. There is 1936 specifically VD propaganda film A Test for Love in fictional cautionary tale format; 1931 How to Tell, produced by BSHC and is about what parents should tell children about sex - use of nature analogies, reproductive imperative, heteronormativity; The Mystery of Marriage 1931 an info-tainment work drawing parallels, with voice-over narration, with various animal species, plants, and exotic peoples from a long way away - humorous tone.

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