City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian London

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9781853815171: City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian London

Late-Victorian London, city of dreadful delight with the new pleasures of the music hall, West End shopping, and the mingling of high and low life where women of every class challenged the traditional privileges of a male elite. It was a city also of sexual repression and the policing of women, of sexual scandal and danger. In this brilliantly illuminating study, Walkowitz shows how these narratives played out complex dramas of power, politics and sexuality, and how they influenced the writing of journalism and fiction and the language of politics. The author persuasively argues that women were not simply figures in the imaginary landscape of male spectators, but also central actors in the stories of metropolitan life that reverberated in courtrooms, learned journals, drawing rooms, street corners and in the letters' columns of the daily press.

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About the Author:

Judith R. Walkowitz is professor of History and Director of Women's Studies at the Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of PROSTITUTION AND VICTORIAN SOCIETY: Women, Class and the State and has published many articles on the history of feminism and sexuality. She has been active in numerous feminist organisations.

From Publishers Weekly:

This treatise on fluctuations with regard to class and gender in late 1800s London both informs about the past and reverberates today. Walkowitz's style is sometimes thick but never impenetrable. She does however have a habit of needlessly ending each chapter by stating what will follow in the next. The author (a historian and director of women's studies at Johns Hopkins) analyzes such social phenomena as The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon, a notorious four-part newspaper series published in 1885 that chronicled the lives of prostitutes, and the Men and Women's Club, a middleclass group organized that same year to discuss, among other topics, prostitution, the Darwinian evolution of women and what their proper roles might be. The most widely known sexual narrative of the time is the story of Jack the Ripper, and Walkowitz convincingly asserts that its circulation did not increase sexual violence but established a common vocabulary and iconography for the forms of male violence that permeated the whole society. The final chapter on the Yorkshire Ripper murders, committed between 1975 and 1981, ties Walkowitz's theories about backlash against women's freedom to the present day.

Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Walkowitz, Judith R.
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