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Medicine, masculinity and the Gothic at the fin de siecle
Author: Andrew Smith

This book is a study of constructions of masculinity in a range of medical, cultural and Gothic narratives at the fin de siecle. The final decades of the nineteenth century provide a particularly complex set of examples of how the dominant masculine scripts came to be associated with disease, degeneration and perversity. The book first outlines the theories of degeneracy, explaining how they relate to masculinity. It then charts an alternative British tradition of degeneracy as this British context provides a more immediate background to the case histories that follow. The book presents a close reading of Sir Frederick Treves's Reminiscences; Treves's memoirs focus on the issues confronted by doctors working in the late Victorian period. The Whitechapel murders of 1888 are then discussed. The book focuses on how and why the medical profession became implicated in the murders. The murders also suggested the presence of a demonic, criminalised form of masculine control over the East End. Continuing with its focus on medicine, the book discusses medical textbooks on syphilis in the 1880s and how they responded to a shift in attitude towards attributing responsibility for the spread of syphilis. An examination of how London appears as a gendered space in the work of male authors such as Thomas De Quincey, and Charles Dickens, and later Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker, is presented. Finally, some aspects of Oscar Wilde's trials are also examined as well as a range of his writings.

Abstract only
Andrew Smith

This book is a study of constructions of masculinity in a range of medical, cultural and Gothic narratives at the fin de siècle. My principal argument is that the final decades of the nineteenth century provide a particularly complex set of examples of how the dominant masculine scripts came to be associated with disease, degeneration and perversity. By exploring

in Victorian demons
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Andrew Smith

although there exists some shared perception relating to the erosion of certain masculine scripts, for some writers this was a liberation rather than a cause for concern. Writing on the fin de siècle has typically emphasised the idea that the period was characterised by crisis. However, as the example of Wilde suggests, there is a difference between provoking a crisis and seeing

in Victorian demons
Sherlock Holmes, Count Dracula and London
Andrew Smith

‘strongly gendered masculine in the culture, so Holmes’s initial appearance [in a scientific laboratory] and early demonstrations of “deduction” signal not only rationality but also masculinity’ (p. 43). However (and as Kestner acknowledges), Doyle’s tales often challenge the idea of rationality and consequently examine the expectations and limitations associated with dominant masculine scripts. Holmes is

in Victorian demons
Wilde’s Art
Andrew Smith

indicates how Wilde’s aesthetic challenges the coherence of the prevailing notions of sexuality, gender and criminality. Sedgwick largely overlooks the significance of this challenge, but it is important to consider as it plays a central part in linking masculinity to criminality. It is criminalisation which imposes a simple bourgeois masculine script, one which ‘outlaws’ alternative identities and in this

in Victorian demons
Andrew Smith

scripts are no longer operative, and this failure of masculine scripts becomes a key indicator of a degenerative age. Kingsley’s contribution to the notion of degeneration lies in the suggestion that modern, urban society generates an array of temptations that men are unable to resist. For Kingsley the city caters for the indulgence of a range of moral vices designed to offer a means of, falsely, escaping

in Victorian demons
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The politics of disease
Andrew Smith

redirection became a cultural imperative. These changes in medical opinion on syphilis were related to the questioning of dominant masculine scripts during the period. This questioning was not just evidenced in the ‘New Woman’ novels, but was also central to Butler’s efforts to repeal the Acts. The idea of a bifurcated male subject, one who because of his frequenting of prostitutes placed his family at risk

in Victorian demons
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The challenge of Dónal Óg Cusack’s ‘coming out’ to heteronormativity in contemporary Irish culture and society
Debbie Ging and Marcus Free

. Alternatively, women who display extreme physical strength and endurance are considered to have violated stereotypical codes of femininity and are frequently accused of being masculine and by default lesbian. According to Eric Anderson ( 2002 :861), gay male athletes present a paradox in that ‘they comply with the gendered script of being a man through the physicality involved in sports but violate another masculine script through the existence of same-sex desires’ and, thus, threaten to undermine sport as the key area for masculine performance and privilege. Similarly

in Defining events
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Geertje Mak

quite imaginable that the way men proved their masculinity differed considerably among different classes or between urban and rural areas in France at the time.66 I will come back to this briefly, but for now I want to discuss the difficulties Barbin encountered inscribing himself in this general masculine script. As we have seen, Barbin strongly empathized with the position of the women whose sacred spaces he had penetrated involuntarily; he understood their shame, their feeling of being defiled. He reassures the reader that the gossip about him being a true Don Juan

in Doubting sex
Journalism, Gothic London and the medical gaze
Andrew Smith

culturally locating the murderer, as well as implicitly pathologising different masculine scripts. They also illustrate the presence of certain class tensions associated with London during the period. 5 However although the figure of ‘Jack’ in the account of class is touched on here, the principal focus in this chapter is on the figure of the doctor and how, and why, the medical profession became

in Victorian demons