My Website

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Exhibition in Halifax Nova Scotia

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is making history with Hello Sailor! Gay Life on the Ocean Wave. The exhibit, which looks at gay culture as part of seafaring life from the 1950s to present dapted from an exhibit created by National Museums Liverpool in England opens for the first time in North America at the museum.. It is based on Hello Sailor! The Hidden History of Gay Life at Sea, a book published by Jo Stanley and Paul Baker in 2003.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Wellcome blog post

Recently posted an entry on the Wellcome Library blog about an interesting little group of correspondence relating to the war-work of the Strangeways Research Laboratory -The Strangeways Laboratory, ‘The Mustard Club’, and Honor Fell’s ‘aliens - although much of this related to the technicalites of research into toxic gases and counter-measures for the same, there was a significant degree of 'human interest', including Honor Fell's principled refusal to supply details of the contingent of German refugee scientists who had been working for quite some time at the Strangeways to the authorities so that they could be subjected to surveillance by the military police.

Also posted to the Wellcome Library blog by one of my colleagues - a chef tries out one of Lady Ann Fanshawe's C17th recipes

Monday, 23 May 2011

Helen Self, Prostitution, Women and Misuse of the Law: The Fallen Daughters of Eve (Cass, 2003)

This was a really excellent study of official policies in the UK towards prostitution with an emphasis on the post-WWII era and an intensive focus on the Wolfenden Committee. As with Mort's work on the Committee, one gets the very strong sense that however much there was some degree of openmindedness towards homosexuals (at least ones who were more or less chaps like us), most of the committee members had their minds made up already about prostitution. Self is good on the contradictions - on the claims that it wasn't about morals, it was about public order and decency, while having a very stigmatising and pathologising view of the women involved. Again like Mort, shows that there was a very narrow construction of what counted as expertise, which drew a line excluding all the various women's organisations who had been dealing with the problem for nearly a century. Attempts to amend the law have been piecemeal and ad hoc and ineffective (a lot of it comes down to specific on the street policing, which varies wildly by area) and have even tended to make things worse for the sex-worker. Strongly indicates the lingering attitudes about the prostitute as a particular kind of person who can be defined and categorised and separated out, and how uphill the struggle has been to suggest that men's implication (as customers rather than ponces or pimps) is part of the problem - and this only really got dealt with in terms of kerb-crawling as public nuisance, in ways that tended to endanger the working women.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Catching up on journal literature IV

More of an aide memoire for things I've looked at that are somewhat peripheral to my particular purposes at the moment, except for Roger Davidson, '"The Sexual State": Sexuality and Scottish Governance, 1950-1980', Journal of the History of Sexuality Vol 13, 2004, pp 500-521, which is very useful both on regionality and on the importance of specific local practices in Scotland, and the continuation of traditional moral attitudes and moral policing.

Also from Journal of the History of Sexuality:

Todd Avery, '"This intricate commerce of souls": The Origins and Some Early Expressions of Lytton Strachey's Ethics'. Vol 13 2004, pp 183-207: interesting in its suggestion that Strachey has been inaccurately depicted as taking G E Moore' ethics into a realm of elitisit aestheticism and that he was actually more engage both as an anti-Victorian anti-Imperialist and as a proponent of a (utopian?) vision of friendship. But a bit tangential to my current concerns.

James M Smith, 'The Politics of Sexual Knowledge: The Origins of Ireland's Containment Culture and the Corrigan Report (1931)', Vol 13 2004, pp. 208-233: good stuff about the new Irish state, the politics of national identity and the idea of itself as a Catholic and morally pure society - and how this led to victimisation of women and children (similar territory to Maria Luddy's later sections of Prostitution in Ireland). But not sure how much on Ireland I shall be able to include.

Ivan Crozier, 'Philosophy in the English Boudoir: Havelock Ellis, Love and Pain, and Sexological Discourse on Algophilia' Vol 13, 2004, pp 275-305: not so much about le vice anglais considered as a national phenomenon, more about Ellis and the wider (European/N American) sexological debates around sado-masochism.

Sally Newman, 'The Archival Traces of Desire: Vernon Lee's Failed Sexuality and the Interpretation of Letters in Lesbian History' - methodologically interesting but not really terribly pertinent to current project.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Another gratifying review for Stella

June Purvis reviews The Life and Times of Stella Browne, Feminist and Free Spirit in THE: Times Higher Education.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Catching up on journal literature III

Martha Vicinus, 'The Gift of Love. Nineteenth-Century Religion and Lesbian Passion', Nineteenth-Century Contexts 23 (2001), p. 241-265: wonderful article about Mary ('Minnie') Benson, wife of Edward White Benson, eventually Archbishop of Canterbury, who picked her out to be his future wife when she was 11 and married her once she was 18. This did not work out well, although they did have six children. Her affections for other women were well beyond the conventions of Victorian romantic friendship. This article shows how remarkably flexible Victorian marital and domestic arrangements could be, and is another important contribution to the recent research on the intersections between religion and sexuality in the C19th and C20th.
Philip Howell, 'A Private Contagious Diseases Act. Prostitution and Public Space in Victorian Cambridge' Journal of Historical Geography 26 (2000), p. 376-402. Useful article on the policing of prostitution in Cambridge according to long-standing traditional University systems of regulation, and for, in fact, similar reasons to the actual CD Acts - the bringing together of a significant number of unattached young men in one place. The University officers tended to believe that prostitution was an unfortunate necessity, but they did not want it flaunting in the public streets and offering open temptation and tried to confine it to the working-class suburb of Barnwell. The University was indeed operating something very like the CD Acts - with medical inspections and incarceration in the 'Spinning House', but Howell points out that far from being a modernising regime this was based on practices that had been in place for a very long time. The records do mean that one can get some sense of women's trajectories in the profession - many seem to have been arrested and incarcerated only once, others had lengthy careers, most were young but not all. One thing I didn't really see addressed in this article was the way that this problem was positioned as being about the undergraduates: at a period when college dons were still required to be unmarried, or had only just been permitted to wed, were they not a significant element in the potential clientele? (and might that not have led to embarrassing encounters?)
David Trotter, 'Some Brothels. Nineteenth-Century Philanthropy and the Poetics of Space' Critical Quarterly 44 (2002), p. 25-35, a rather short article looking at prostitute rescue philanthropy and the belief that the rescue worker had to go into the brothels, and the way they describe them. How this relates to urban spaces and public/private space confusions. Idea of the descent into places represented as filthy and abject as an intiation. (More to be done here?)
Richard Hornsey, 'The Sexual Geographies of Reading in Post-War London', Gender, Place and Culture 9 (2002),  p. 371-38. Libraries and what they should be providing to readers; rise of the paperback; the distinction between the austere and tasteful Penguins and  books with 'alluring and tawdry jackets' - 'railway bookstalls' and the move of sex-novelettes out of the backstreet 'magazine shop' into this liminal space. The tension between the reputation and perception of Penguins and the perceptions of Lady Chatterley's Lover leading to the trial. Where and how to read. Segues to discussion of books about homosexuality. Little difference in representation as 'tortured misfits' in medical and sociological works, and 'crude generic fiction'. Libraries were fairly okay with the 'serious' texts but the others were perceived as degraded bookstall fodder (often making quite misleading come-ons with the covers!). Orton and Halliwell's defacement of library books as a kind of queering performance art - presenting the unsuspecting reader who picks up one of them from the shelves with some new set of reading practices. (?'Matter out of place?)

Monday, 16 May 2011

Catching up on journal literature II

Hera Cook, 'Sex and the Experts. Medicalisation as a Two Way Process, Britain 1920-1950' chapter in Usborne, Cornelie/Blécourt, Willem de (eds) Cultural Approaches to the History of Medicine. Mediating Medicine in Early Modern and Modern Europe (2003): tends to concur with my own views that these manuals were performing a work of enlightenment (not just introducing a new oppressive hegemony), and does useful analysis of various manuals along axes of male/female, medical/non-medical writers.
Pauline Phipps, 'Faith, Desire and Sexual Identity: Constance Maynard's Atonement for Passion', Journal of the History of Sexuality 18 (2009), pp. 265-286: an analysis of the first mistress of Westfield College University of London, and explores same-sex desires between women, the role of religion, and the fact that these relationships could have elements of abuse, at least on the emotional level (I rather wish I'd read this before sending off my Berks paper, since there seemed to me to be more than a little of Clemence Dane's Clare Hartill in Maynard).
Deborah Cohler, 'Sapphism and Sedition. Producing Female Homosexuality in Great War Britain', Journal of the History of Sexuality 16 (2007), p. 68-94: covering similar ground to her Citizen, Invert, Queer Looking at the relative fluidity and indeterminacy (or just confusion) around female same-sex desire towards the end of the Great War and the way discourses around nationalism and militarism played into it - looking at Allatini's Despised and Rejected and the Maud Allan case.
Richard Philips, 'Heterogeneous Imperialism and the Regulation of Sexuality in British West Africa',  Journal of the History of Sexuality 14 (2005), pp 291-315: why did quite a lot of parts of the Empire in the C19th not have the CD Acts or anything along those lines? Uses Sierra Leone as a case-study. Other modes of sexual regulation going on. Specific local situtations and contingency. Flexibility of imperialism - response to contexts. Notes that in some places there was popular support for regulation (cf Tuck on Uganda). Attitudes towards 'the African'.
Brian Lewis, 'The Queer Life and Afterlife of Roger Casement' Journal of the History of Sexuality 14 (2005), pp. 363-383: about the ways in which Casement's homosexuality has been used, considered as a libellous product of forgery, etc. The problematic and contradictory elements of his sexuality - not 'a gay saint'. Puzzlement of contemporaries about the disjunction between his humanitarianism and what was seen as an appalling revelation.
Lisa Z Sigel, 'Name Your Pleasure: the Transformation of Sexual Language in Nineteenth Century British Pornography', Journal of the History of Sexuality 9 (2000), pp. 395-419: how the elaborate and celebratory, even quite baroque, descriptions of C18th erotica, give way to the use of 'filthy' obscene language. Which had previously been 'vulgar' but not smutty and arousing in the way it becomes in Victorian pornography. Sigel points out that most Victporn was for a middle-class audience and 'filth' had lots of class connotations, and that there is increasing association of sex & dirt, plus misogyny. Breaching of taboos. The 'emptying out' of erotic writing as suggested by Dorelies Kraak in the Sexual Cultures book.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

A few website updates

After rather too long a time, I have done updates to Recent Recommended Reading. I also continue to update History of Sexuality, Women's History, and Victoriana links as and when information comes to hand.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Possibly an over-emphasised area?

Especially as the Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics was published last year.... How much more is there to say? Furthermore, I've just got off today a review of Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska, Managing the Body: Beauty, Health, and Fitness in Britain 1880-1939 (2010), which draws significant attention to the vast plethora of movements, individuals, government initiatives and commercial enterprises of the early to mid-C20th which were all about improving bodies and health through a range of interventions and initiatives. I am rather given to wonder whether these were not rather more influential, though a good deal less coherent, than the ideology of eugenics - but although so many people did passionately believe in strategies for improvement, there were such significant diversities of opinion about what these should actually be that this aspect of thinking about issues of nation and wellbeing was the antithesis of monolithic.
Call for Papers: The Study of Eugenics - Past, Present and Future
Uppsala University, Sweden   10 Nov 2011 - 11 Nov 2011
Deadline: 31 May 2011
The study of eugenics has been extensive in recent years and has yielded a detailed understanding of the origins, evolution and impact of eugenic beliefs and practices. This research has received much attention also outside of academic circles, not least because of the growing awareness of the widespread eugenic practices (like sterilization) in emerging welfare states like the Nordic countries. Here, historical scholarship has contributed to the ongoing reinterpretation of the "modern project". Much light has been shed on the relationship between eugenics and genetics before 1945, but the continuing relationship between these areas up to the present has not received enough attention, even though eugenic themes have been present in discussions about "ethical" issues in connection with various biomedical practices. This conference aims to bring together scholars in a variety of disciplines - history, the social sciences and philosophy among them - in order to discuss what the study of eugenics has achieved so far and what lies ahead, in ongoing and future research, including the relatively under-developed study of post-war eugenics.
The conference is open to contributions from various fields of research that may treat specific eugenic topics as well as historiographical questions. Accepted contributions will be arranged in thematic sessions by the organizers. The conference will last for two days and will open with keynote lectures by Professor Paul Weindling (Oxford Brookes University) on The Historiography of the History of Eugenics, and Dr. Marius Turda (Oxford Brookes University) on Eugenics and Society - The Path for Future Research.
The conference is organized by Living History Forum, Stockholm, and the Department of History of Science and Ideas, Uppsala University. Living History Forum is a government organisation that has been set up in order to spread knowledge and encourage research about issues associated with crimes against humanity (foremost the Holocaust). The Department of History of Science and Ideas is a major centre in Sweden for research in the history of medicine, including eugenics and related areas.
The organizers will cover the costs for meals and accommodation, and reimburse some travel expenses for participants who present papers. The number of papers that can be accepted is limited. If you want only to listen and participate in discussions you are heartily welcome but must still apply. More details regarding practical arrangements including a preliminary program will be sent out in mid June.
The deadline for applying to the conference is May 31.
Applications should include information about academic or other affiliation and research area. Those wishing to present a paper should include an abstract of no more than 300 words. Please note that the conference language is English.
Applications and questions should be directed to:
Annelie Drakman,

Sven Widmalm, professor Oscar Österberg, project manager
Dept. of History of Science and Ideas Living History Forum
Uppsala University Stockholm  

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Some intriguing looking conferences (which I doubt I shall be managing to attend)

Yorkshire Women’s History Network inaugural one-day conference ‘Women on Others/Women as Others’ on Saturday 25th June 2011 at Leeds Trinity University College.

Our keynote address will be by Professor Alison Oram (Leeds Met), and the schedule for the day is as follows:
8:45 Registration
9:15 Welcome
9:30 Keynote: Prof Alison Oram
10:30 Tea/Coffee break
11:30 Strand A: The Other at the fin-de-siècle
Ann Heilmann, (University of Hull), ‘The New Woman in China
Grainne Goodwin, (Leeds Metropolitan University), ‘The othering of women writers professional sociability at the fin-de-siècle through the experiences of Flora Annie Steel’
12:30 Lunch
13:30 Meeting to Discuss the formation of the Yorks WHN
14:00 Strand B: Other languages, Other selves
Alison Torn, (LTUC), ‘Women & Madness: pre-Enlightenment and post-enlightenment examples of resisting and using the other
Baptiste Moniez, (Canterbury Christ Church University), ‘Other s among Others: British Single Missionary Women and the Cultural ‘Other’’
Mehdi Damali Amiri, (Bualisina University, Hamedan, Iran), ‘Women and their Hidden Idenity’
15:00 Tea/Coffee Break
15:30 Strand C:
Susan Anderson and Di Drummond, (LTUC), ‘Constructing and Reconstructing ‘The Other’: Changing Representations of Indian Women in British Imperial Discourses of the Sixteenth and Eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’
16:30 Close

Full conference registration, inclusive of lunch

Student/unwaged concession conference registration, inclusive of lunch


For further details and registration forms please contact Julie Wadsworth

Midwifery in Scotland: Past and Present

2 June 2011
An Event to Celebrate the Launch of
Midwifery in Scotland: A History
Lindsay Reid


Ruth Honeybone, LHSA Paper Conservator
‘Midwifery Records in Lothian Health Services Archive’

Debbie Nicholson, University of West of Scotland,
‘Womb with a View’: Transforming ultrasound into a consumer technology

Book Discussants:
Cathy Warwick, General Secretary, Royal College of Midwives
Christine Hallett, University of Manchester
Iain Hutchison, University of Glasgow

From: 1.30-4.30
In: G3-4, School of Health in Social Science
The University of Edinburgh
Medical School
Teviot Place
Edinburgh EH8 9AG

If you haven’t already, please book by sending £10 to Margaret Lynch, De Partu Treasurer, University of Manchester, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University Place, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL

Hosted by the International Football Institute, University of Central Lancashire
The British Society of Sports History
Friday 10
th June, 2011
Time Location: Greenbank Building, University of Central Lancashire
9:30 – 10:00 Registration and Refreshments
10:00 – 11:30 Panel 1: Women and Sport: Prejudice and Progress
Catherine Budd (De Montfort University)
"Entirely out of Their Sphere, and Calculated to Unsex Them in More Ways
than One!" Women and Sport in Middlesbrough, c.1880-1914
Carlos Caracciolio (National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology, Italy):
Bicycles and Women (without Forgetting Men): Notes for an Italian History
Michelle Sikes (University of Oxford):
Absence, Emergence, Permanence: Conceptualising Social Change through the
Prism of Women's Running in Kenya
11:30 – 12:00 Break
12:00 – 1:30 Panel 2: Physical Culture, Gender and the Body
Sue Ash (Oxford Brookes University):
'Fit' Women: Aesthetic Movement or Eugenic Exercise in Early Twentieth
Century Britain?
Eilidh Macrae (University of Glasgow):
Conflicts of Fitness and Femininity: The Negotiation of Appropriate
Female Space in the 1937 Scottish Fitness Campaign
Veronique Czaka (University of Geneva/University of Lausanne):
Constructing Gender through Gymnastics at School: Discourse and Practice in
West Switzerland, 1860-1920
1:30 – 2:30 Lunch
2:30 – 4:00 Panel 3: 'Troubled' Masculinities and 'Subversive' Femininities
Sergio Lussana (University of Warwick)
'The Great Wrestler Can Win Laurels': Enslaved Fighting Contests and
Expressions of Masculinity in the Antebellum Southern United States
Dr Jean Williams (De Montfort University)
Speaking Softly: Roberta Cowell's Autobiography, Gender and Identity
Dr Stacey Pope (University of Bedfordshire )
'White Shoes to a Football Match!': Female Experiences of Football's 'Golden
Age' in England
4.00 – 4:30 Break
4:30 – 5:30 Round Table: Sport and Gender: Future Directions
Dr Carol Osborne (University of Cumbria)
Dr Fiona Skillen (University of Central Lancashire)
Dr Jean Williams (De Montfort University)
Dr Joyce Kay (University of Stirling)
Dr Fiona Skillen,
International Football Institute, School of Sport, Tourism and the Outdoors Room 152,
Greenbank Building, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, PR1 2HE.
Closing Date 20th May 2011.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Catching up on journal literature I

Trying to dig up and read articles relevant to the revision of Sex, Gender, and Social Change. So far:

Jenny Birchall, ''The Carnival Revels of Manchester's Vagabonds': Young Working-class Women and Monkey Parades in the 1870s', Women's History Review, 2006,  15: 2, 229-252.
Useful piece on the anxieties of new urban spaces and the use of urban spaces, class mixing and mingling, women in public etc. It focuses on one street in Manchester, which with its new shopping emporia was creating concerns over middle-class shopping or simply window-shopping women, as well as the evening-time presence of young people of a lower class engaged in courtship behaviour, or encounters intended to lead to courtship. It sounds as if the young working-class women were as much about seeking a place to display their stylish finery as to cop off with young men. It also strikes me that as a community practice the the 'monkey-walk' did facilitate getting to know members of the opposite sex in a collective setting, which must have had an element of safety about it. And that just because the young women gave as good as they got verbally didn't mean that, even by middle-class standards, they were actually immoral in their behaviour.

Stephen Garton, 'The scales of suffering: Love, death and Victorian masculinity', Social History, 2002, 27: 1, 40-58. I
Interesting, but very close-focus study of the diaries of a late C19th Australian doctor and general activist in various fields, with particular reference to his mourning of his wife in them over a prolonged period. A useful contribution to our understanding of the fractures within Victorian middle-class masculinity but a bit narrow - is there any comparative work (he does cite Tosh on Victorian manhood).  It predates Julie-Marie Strange's work Death, Grief and Poverty in Britain, 1870-1914 (and now out in paperback!)