Cultural Discourses on Desire between Women: A Queer Comparative Analysis

Charlotte Ross has won a BA/Leverhulme research grant for the project 'Cultural Discourses on Desire between Women: A Queer Comparative Analysis'.

She and her co-investigator, Dr Silvia Antosa (University of Enna Korè, Sicily) will be conducting research in the UK, Italy and France, making conference presentations and co-authoring a book and an article.

Representations of lesbians and women who desired women in late 19th century and early 20th century Europe were transcultural: they were forged across cultures, language and genres. For example, ideas expressed in French novels were reiterated and elaborated by Italian sexologists, who sometimes changed more positive depictions into pathological identities.

Very little research traces and analyses the movement and evolution of these discourses on women desiring women. As a consequence, our understanding of the construction of the queer desiring woman in this period, the legacies of which inflect contemporary cultural representation and homophobia in multiple contexts, is severely incomplete.

This project offers an innovative transcultural, transgenre analysis of cultural discourses on queer women in France, Italy and Britain between the 1870s and the 1930s. It will offer crucial insights and forge new pathways for comparative analysis of the cross-cultural evolution of discourses on sexuality, in this vital period and beyond.