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DISABILITY AND GENDER IN THE VISUAL FIELD: SEEING THE SUBTERRANEAN LIVES OF MICHAEL FIELD'S WILLIAM RUFUS

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 March 2012

Sharon Bickle
Affiliation:
The University of Queensland

Extract

When the UK'sGuardiannewspaper 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.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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DISABILITY AND GENDER IN THE VISUAL FIELD: SEEING THE SUBTERRANEAN LIVES OF MICHAEL FIELD'S WILLIAM RUFUS
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