Synopses & Reviews
From tabloid exposes of child prostitution to the grisly tales of Jack the Ripper, narratives of sexual danger pulsated through Victorian London. Expertly blending social history and cultural criticism, Judith Walkowitz shows how these narratives reveal the complex dramas of power, politics, and sexuality that were being played out in late nineteenth-century Britain, and how they influenced the language of politics, journalism, and fiction.
Victorian London was a world where long-standing traditions of class and gender were challenged by a range of public spectacles, mass media scandals, new commercial spaces, and a proliferation of new sexual categories and identities. In the midst of this changing culture, women of many classes challenged the traditional privileges of elite males and
asserted their presence in the public domain.
An important catalyst in this conflict, argues Walkowitz, was W. T. Stead's widely read 1885 article about child prostitution. Capitalizing on the uproar caused by the piece and the volatile political climate of the time, women spoke of sexual danger, articulating their own grievances against men, inserting themselves into the public discussion of sex to an unprecedented extent, and gaining new entree to public spaces and journalistic practices. The ultimate manifestation of class anxiety and gender antagonism came in 1888 with the tabloid tales of Jack the Ripper. In between, there were quotidien stories of sexual possibility and urban adventure, and Walkowitz examines them all, showing how women were not simply figures in the imaginary landscape of male spectators, but also central actors in the stories of metropolotin life that reverberated in courtrooms, learned journals, drawing rooms, street corners, and in the letters columns of the daily press.
A model of cultural history, this ambitious book will stimulate and enlighten readers across a broad range of interests.
Series Editor's ForewordAcknowledgmentsIntroductions1. Urban Spectatorship2. Contested Terrain: New Social Actors3. "The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon"4. "The Maiden Tribute": Cultural Consequences5. The Men and Women's Clu (6. Science and the Seance: Transgressions of Gender and Genre7. Jack the RipperEpilogue: The Yorkshire RipperNotesSelected BibliographyIndex
The year 1900, fin de siand#232;cle, in Europe evokes polar thoughts: on the one hand, sensational slashers and femmes fatales, destitute and dangerous new urban districts, criminal violence and sexual excess; on the other, science and reason triumphant, a near arrogant confidence in progress, the emergence of new expert knowledge. The tensions between these poles take on the character of a single myth, a story of origins, essences, and destinies that Scott Spector tells through a focus on Vienna and Berlin. Together, these two cities stand for the and#147;New Metropolis,and#8221; crucial sites in the development of modern conceptions of gender and sexuality, also of political emancipation movements these conceptions inspired. Vienna and Berlin witnessed the birth of the science of sexology, the earliest articulations of homosexuality as an identity, the concomitant movement to abolish persecution of sexual minorities, and the and#147;first-waveand#8221; feminisms of the turn of the century. These cities also, and simultaneously became host to fantasies of violence associated with liminal figures: the pervasive image of the dangerous and erotic femme fatale, reports and fictions of sexual murder, along with the violent underworld of prostitution, and the surprising and forceful reemergence of the blood libel, representations of homosexual rings or secret associations. Spector shows how these prurient fantasies were given life in high culture (literature and philosophy), science (especially sexology, urban sociology, and criminology), and popular culture (including pulp novels as well as sensational court cases reported in the popular press). Among the characters populating Spectorand#8217;s account are Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (homosexual emancipation leader), Karl Kraus (playwright, poet, satirist), Otto Weininger (misogynist, anti-Semitic medical philosopher), Robert Musil (master novelist of violent fantasy), Rosa Mayreder, and other feminists, and Georg Simmel (sociologist of the city). As a contribution to modernist studies and European cultural history, Spectorand#8217;s book will win awards, and as a contribution to the history of sexuality, criminology, psychology, and ideas, it will find classroom use eventually. Itand#8217;s pathbreaking, and itand#8217;s great reading.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 315-338) and index.
Table of Contents
Series Editor's Foreword
1. Urban Spectatorship
2. Contested Terrain: New Social Actors
3. "The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon"
4. "The Maiden Tribute": Cultural Consequences
5. The Men and Women's Club
6. Science and the Sand#233;ance: Transgressions of Gender and Genre
7. Jack the Ripper
Epilogue: The Yorkshire Ripper