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date: 22 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an overview of changes and cultural shifts around questions of gender and sexuality in the Victorian period. Against a backdrop of change and dissonance, the Victorians saw considerable upheaval across normative codes of social, sexual, and gendered behaviour. In this chapter, we want to look at some current themes in Victorian studies around the topics of gender and sexuality and place these into the contexts of the multiple cultural frameworks, identities, and discourses on rights that circulated in the period. Tracing the approaches of both the Victorians and contemporary Victorianists, the essay ranges from key issues of contention relating to female sexuality through legal rights for women to new debates around masculinity and male identity. At the end we highlight emerging trends in contemporary Victorian studies and some remaining untapped sources of enquiry.

Keywords: gender, sexuality, femininity, masculinity, queer, rights

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