Picturing the Closet: Male Secrecy and Homosexual Visibility in Britain

ISBN : 9780190205638

Dominic Janes
240 Pages
191 x 258 mm
Pub date
May 2015
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To what extent did people think they could identify an 'obvious' sodomite before the construction of the homosexual as a type of person during the latter part of the nineteenth century? What role did secrecy and denial play in relation to the visual expression of same-sex desire before the term 'the closet' came into widespread use in the latter part of the twentieth century? And what, therefore, did sodomites/homosexuals/gays/queers look like in Britain in 1700, 1800, 1900 and 2000? Could they be spotted mincing down the street? Or were such as these just the flamboyant few whose presence conveniently drew attention away from the many others who wanted to appear 'normal'? These issues are not peripheral to the struggle of the last several decades for individual self-determination and self-expression. It was this set of cultural constructions that the pioneering writer Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (1950-2009) attacked in her book Epistemology of the Closet as representing 'the defining structure for gay oppression in this century'. This book represents a visual culture counterpart to Sedgwick's study and aims, through the use of a series of interdisciplinary case-studies, to explore both the pre-history of the closet since the eighteenth century and its evolution through to the present day. Chapters explore key moments and issues within the British cultural experience and make pioneering use of a wide range of source materials ranging from art to fashion, literature, philosophy, theology, film and archival records.


Ch. 1, Introduction: Picturing the Closet
Part One
Ch. 2, Hogarth's Panic
Ch. 3, Burke's Solution
Ch. 4, The Decorative and the Damned
Part Two
Ch. 5, Athletics and Aesthetics
Ch. 6, Strachey in Earnest
Ch. 7, Expulsion
Part Three
Ch. 8, Criminal Practices
Ch. 9, The Unliberated
Ch. 10, After the Outrage

About the author: 

Dominic Janes is Senior Lecturer in History of Art and Culture at Birkbeck, University of London. His other books include Victorian Reformation: The Fight Over Idolatry in the Church of England and God and Gold in Late Antiquity.

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