Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Critique ¬

… What’s Missing In Naomi Wolf’s ‘Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love’ | Public Seminar. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Outrages would have been more successful if Wolf had not been quite so determined to overturn conventional wisdom. She is at her strongest when she is either synthetic or autobiographical, writing in her characteristically urgent style while building on others’ specialist knowledge. The broad strokes of her account of the late-Victorian gender order and the emergence of male homosexuality as a stable identity category within it do not look that different from my undergraduate lecture on the same subject. But her forays into the legal history, particularly of the first half of the nineteenth century, go desperately off-piste, and she lacks wider contextual knowledge that would help her to make better sense of the man at the center of her story.

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