Disability and gender in the visual field: seeing the subterranean lives of Michael Field's William Rufus (1885)

Bickle, Sharon (2012) Disability and gender in the visual field: seeing the subterranean lives of Michael Field's William Rufus (1885). Victorian Literature and Culture, 40 (1). pp. 137-152. ISSN 1060-1503

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Abstract

When the UK's Guardian newspaper featured 'La Gioconda' as poem of the week in January 2010, the paper's popular readership discovered what many late-Victorian scholars had known about for some time: the poetic partnership of Katharine Bradley (1846–1914) and Edith Cooper (1862–1913), known as 'Michael Field.' The successful recovery of the Fields as significant late-Victorian writers – a project now in its second decade – seems poised to emerge into popular awareness driven as much by interest in their unconventional love affair as by the poetry itself. Scholars too have been seduced by the romance of a transgressive love story, and the critical nexus between sexuality and textuality has produced remarkable scholarship on the Fields' lyric poetry: those texts in which the personas have a rough equivalence with Bradley and Cooper themselves. Yopie Prins first noted the complex engagement of multiple voices with lyric structure in Long Ago (74–111), and Ana Parejo Vadillo (Women Poets 175–95), Jill Ehnenn (73–96), and Hilary Fraser (553–56) expanded on this to uncover the transformation of the lyric's male gaze into a triangulated lesbian vision in Sight and Song (1892). In contrast to the recognition accorded their lyric verse, most critics have overlooked Michael Field's verse dramas. While there have been attempts to shift attention onto the plays, the significance of the Fields' lesbian vision to the dramas has never been explored. This article seeks to redress this pervasive neglect and begin dismantling the boundaries that have grown up between critical approaches to the lyrics and the plays.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: This publication is copyright. It may be reproduced in whole or in part for the purposes of study, research, or review, but is subject to the inclusion of an acknowledgment of the source.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - School of Humanities and Communication
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2014 05:32
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2017 01:52
Uncontrolled Keywords: Michael Field; women's writing; verse drama; nineteenth century British poetry; gender; disability
Fields of Research : 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200503 British and Irish Literature
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200526 Stylistics and Textual Analysis
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200525 Literary Theory
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1017/S1060150311000283
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/25254

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