Sexual Anarchy

Sexual Anarchy

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Gender and Culture at the Fin De Siecle

'Sexual anarchy' - dire predictions, disasters, apocalypse - became the hallmark of the closing decades of the nineteenth century.

The New Woman and the Odd Woman threatened male identity and self-esteem. The emergence of feminism and homosexuality meant the redefining of masculinity and femininity. This is the terrain which Elaine Showalter explores with such consummate originality and wit.

Looking at parallels between the ends of the 19th and 20th centuries and their representations in literature, art and film, she ranges over the trial of Oscar Wilde, the public furore over prostitution and syphilis, moral outrage over the breakdown of the family, abortion rights and AIDS.

High and low culture - from male quest romances to contemporary male bonding movies (Heart of Darkness reworked into Apocalypse Now), Freud to Fatal Attraction - all are part of this scholarly and entertaining study of the fin de siecle.