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Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England Paperback – 22 Jan 2007
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"Between Women literally shifts our understanding of how the history of sexuality and gender norms ought to be written. Sharon Marcus's groundbreaking text finally offers us a framework for thinking about the social and sexual bonds among women and their centrality to the history of gender, sexuality, marriage, and the family. Working with a wide array of texts, Marcus brilliantly shows how literary studies can enter into both social history and contemporary politics. Her final reflections on gay and lesbian marriage make clear the high stakes and pressing conceptual implications for our time of this kind of critical and capacious work."--Judith Butler, University of California, Berkeley
"This magnificent and impressive book offers us what Foucault would have called a 'history of the present': not only does it completely transform our perception of the past, but, in so doing, it also newly illuminates the debates and struggles that are ours, today."--Didier Eribon, author of Michel Foucault and Insult and the Making of the Gay Self
"Between Women significantly revises conventional wisdom about Victorian female friendships, desire, and marriage. To tell this story, Marcus has studied women's life writings, canonical fiction, fashion magazines, doll stories, and anthropological texts of the period. The result is intellectually stunning and wonderfully entertaining."--Judith R. Walkowitz, Johns Hopkins University
"Between Women is not only a first-rate Victorianist study, it is also the most original work on gender and sexuality to appear in years--one that promises to shake up feminist theory and queer theory in all the right ways. A densely researched book, as academically sound as it is intellectually thrilling."--Diana Fuss, Princeton University
"This is a superb work of scholarship, beautifully conceived and written, that will change our views of Victorian women, men, society, and culture. Sharon Marcus's argument that the Victorians viewed intense and passionate female relationships as a vital precursor and stimulus for heterosexual marriage is persuasive. What she has accomplished is the most difficult of intellectual projects: seeing what is in plain sight and yet has not been noticed because of our cultural preconceptions, and then using her findings to recast an entire field."--Bonnie S. Anderson, City University of New York
"Winner of the 2008 Barbara Perkins and George Perkins Prize"
"Winner of the 2008 Alan Bray Memorial Award"
"Winner of the 2008 Albion Book Prize"
"Winner of the 2007 Lambda Literary Award for best book in LGBT Studies"
"Finalist for the Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction, Publishing Triangle"
Women in Victorian England wore jewelry made from each other's hair and wrote poems celebrating decades of friendship. They pored over magazines that described the dangerous pleasures of corporal punishment. A few had sexual relationships with each other, exchanged rings and vows, willed each other property, and lived together in long-term partnerships described as marriages. But, as Sharon Marcus shows, these women were not seen as gender outlaws. Their desires were fanned by consumer culture and their friendships and unions were accepted and even encouraged by family, society, and church. Far from being sexless angels defined only by male desires, Victorian women openly enjoyed looking at and even dominating other women. Their friendships helped realize the ideal of companionate love between men and women celebrated by novels, and their unions influenced politicians and social thinkers to reform marriage law. Through a close examination of literature, memoirs, letters, domestic magazines, and political debates, Marcus reveals how relationships between women were a crucial component of femininity.Deeply researched, powerfully argued, and filled with original readings of familiar and surprising sources, "Between Women" overturns everything we thought we knew about Victorian women and the history of marriage and family life. It offers a new paradigm for theorizing gender and sexuality - not just in the Victorian period, but in our own. See all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This book is important in that it challenges both common and scholarly conceptions of the Victorian era in ways which open some possibilities for rethinking our conceptions not only of that time, but of our own selves, and of the time in which we live.
Anybody who is interested in current debates over gay marriage, what it means to be a woman (or a man), or identity politics in general will likely find this book both interesting and valuable.
Anybody who is a fan of Victorian novels will likely find this book fascinating.
Anybody who is immersed in contemporary Continental philosophy will find this book powerful. However, I am confident that you will find this book to be clear and easy to read even if you have never read any Continental philosophy (or don't even know what that term means).
Finally, please see the other reviews for more details about the arguments of this book.
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