Mysteries of the visible

Dandies, cross-dressers and freaks in late-Victorian Gothic

in Fashioning Gothic bodies
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This chapter focuses on two personae in the Victorian period as having particular relevance for Gothic fiction: the dandy and the cross-dressed or 'manly' woman. It explores the twentieth-century understanding of the relationship between dandies and freaks. Dandyism was an important influence on Gothic even when not directly represented within it, as its emphasis on the surface embodied in the charismatic, amoral male crystallises many of the genre's pre-existing characteristics. James I. Walpole's camp nostalgia, which led him to affect elaborate archaisms in his dress as well as collect kitsch antiquities, can be thought of as an antecedent of Aestheticism if not necessarily of dandyism proper. Dandyism and female cross-dressing, connected through their parallel negotiations with existing gender roles, constitute the specific fashion technologies through which the Gothic surface is articulated. Nevertheless, not only gender but also class and colonialism are implicated in the attendant narratives.

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