[personal profile] spacefall posting in [community profile] queering_holmes
One thing that fascinates me about Holmes is his sometimes cracky use of disguise, and the ease with which he slips across social boundaries. By transforming from professional consultant to idler, opium addict or clergyman, he manages to penetrate almost every class of London society. Probably the most famous of his disguises are those in which Holmes adopts a 'lower class' role to undo criminals who would consider themselves his betters. Satisfying ... though perhaps more in a spirit of practicality than pure egalitarianism, if his seduction of Agatha in CHAS is anything to go by. :p


Slumming : sexual and social politics in Victorian London by Seth Koven
(ISBN 0691128006)

Slumming is a rare read for anyone curious about the wider connotations of Holmes's journeys through class. Koven examines the sexual and moral associations of poverty for middle-class Victorians, and the ways 'slumming' altered the social landscape. The book begins with a reporter's undercover journey to the casual ward of a Lambeth workhouse, revealing both the apalling conditions and contemporary anxieties about sodomy and the degradation of the poor. Koven goes on to consider fabricated images of 'ragged children', the eroticisation of grime and slum dwelling, religious settlements, and the effects of philanthropy and slumming in the lives of queer women such as Vernon Lee. Needless to say, this book is very queer, and raises tantalising questions about many Holmes tales -- not only in terms of Holmes's own journeys, but the lives of Nancy Barclay, Neville St. Clair, and Holmes's own ragged band, the irregulars.

Along with several books already mentioned in these threads (Robb, Cook, Cocks ... try saying that ten times quickly) Slumming is one of my favourite recs for Holmes readers interested in London and Queer histories. I never fail to get something out of it...

...and speaking of getting out of things (*cough* subtle link) may I just mention a couple of books by Angus McLaren that may be interesting to this group for a combination of queer and legal angles.

The Trials of Masculinity: Policing Sexual Boundaries, 1870-1930
(ISBN 0226500683)

Sexual Blackmail: A Modern History
(ISBN 067400924X)

The Trials of Masculinity reports legal cases which illuminate 19th/20th century standards of 'acceptable' masculine behaviour. Which cases elicit sympathy, which disgust, pity, or ridicule? Not the most delicate book(!) and McLaren seems to have little clue about trans issues, but the hardback has possibly the best cover of any book anywhere.

Sexual Blackmail largely deals with 20th century cases, with an opening chapter on the earlier creation of blackmail law in response to threats and extortion between men. The reports of Victorian cases, while brief, are potentially interesting for Holmesfen. Frankly, blackmail is such an obsession of the fandom that it's worth nabbing from the library, purely to see how similar cases were reported and tried in court.

[eta: wth...why did this come out dated 2002. Er, fixed...I hope]
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