Oh, those Victorians!
I recently had the pleasure of talking to Dr Kate Lister about The Victorians, in particular, some of the myths that have come down through the ages about the sexual culture of the time.
The episode will be aired on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, at 7:30 pm Eastern.
We had a fascinating conversation about all sorts of topics, including:
- “Think of England”,
- Corsets (and the neo-Victorian style of Steam Punk),
- Vibrators and the treatment of hysterical paroxysm,
- Victorian prudishness,
- The birth of modern Sexology, (Richard von Krafft-Ebing, H. Havelock Ellis)
- Prostitution, (“The Great Social Evil”)
- Court cases and other sex scandals of the time (Regina v Wilde), and
- The early days of a more open gay culture and the precursor of an accepted homosexual identity. (During the early Victorian Era, homosexuality was considered an indecent act (and a capital offence), not a legitimate sexual identity. H. Havelock Ellis was the first researcher to look at homosexuality in a non-moralistic, non-pathological sense which gave rise to future research into homosexual identity)
- Oh yeah, Ripper Street gets a mention too.
Some Victorian-era Reading
The following are mentioned in the episode as examples of the erotic literature of the time. Since they are all in the public domain, it is possible to find them online.
- Venus in Furs by Ritter von Leopold Sacher-Masoch – While this was actually published in Austria, it has a special bearing on the kink community. We get the word masochism from the author’s name. (1870)
- The Pearl – This smutty magazine published 18 issues and two Christmas supplements. You can read 19 of the 20 issues on the linked site. (1879-1880)
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890)
- Psychopathia Sexualis by Richard von Krafft-Ebbing (1st edition 1886)
- Sexual Inversion by H. Havelock Ellis (1897)
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