McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Austen, Baillie, bisexual*, Charke, gender performance, queer
As queer theory has evolved and been adapted by scholars of various fields, queer studies has become increasingly important to academic understandings of the eighteenth century. However, the broadness of queer scholarship has resulted in specific sexualities becoming less visible. This project grapples with the concept of bisexuality and its relation to gender, performance, and women in the late eighteenth century. It proposes the intersection of queer temporalities and the gaze to develop a new methodology in which the scholar consciously looks back at the eighteenth century through the lens of the twenty-first century. The project considers representations of bisexuality and sexual fluidity in Charlotte Charke's A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Charlotte Charke, Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, and Joanna Baillie's Witchcraft, and it reads each text through popular visual culture of the twenty-first century. Using the term bisexuality encourages a deeper consideration of both the benefits and potential disadvantages in using sexual identity labels. Furthermore, the juxtaposition of the two centuries explodes the rigidity of sexuality labels, genre, and linear temporality. Ultimately, "A Stranger to this World" promotes a viewpoint of eighteenth-century sexuality that embraces ambiguity and becomes relevant to twenty-first century culture.
Higa, J. (2015). "A Stranger to the World": Women, Bisexuality, and Performance in Eighteenth-Century England (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/79