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Attitudes to sexuality and prostitution

1. What myths did contemporaries perpetuate about prostitution and for what reasons?

2. What was the significance of the campaign against the Contagious Diseases Acts?

3. Was there a change in sexual attitudes at the end of the nineteenth century?

4. To what extent did women gain increased control over their sexuality and reproductive functions during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries?

5. How far was class an issue in women's experience of sexuality?

Core Reading

Walkowitz, Judith R. Prostitution and Victorian Society: Women, Class and the State

Caine, Barbara. Victorian Feminists, ch. 5

Hall, Lesley A. Sex, Gender and Social Change in Britain since 1880, especially chs. 1-4

Jeffreys, Sheila. 'Women and Sexuality' in Purvis (ed), Women's History: Britain, 1850-1945


Mahood, Lesley. The Magdalenes. Prostitution in the Nineteenth Century

Mason, Michael. The Making of Victorian Sexuality, pp. 72-103

Bartley, Paula. 'Prostitution: Prevention and Reform in England', Journal of Social History (2000)

Sigsworth, E. M. and Wyke, T. J. 'A Study of Victorian Prostitution' in Vicinus (ed), Suffer and Be Still: Women in the Victorian Age

Walkowitz, Judith R. City of Dreadful Delight, ch. 3

Contagious Diseases Acts

Bland, Lucy. Banishing the Beast. English Feminism and Sexual Morality, 1884-1914

Burden, A. M. 'The White Woman's Burden' in Chaudhuri and Strobel (eds), Western Women and Imperialism: Complicity and Resistance

Kingsley Kent, Susan. Sex and Suffrage in Britain, ch. 2

Summers, A. 'The Constitution Violated: the Female Body and the Female Subject in the Campaigns of Josephine Butler', History Workshop Journal, 48 (1999)

Walkowitz, Judith R. 'Male Vice and Feminist Virtue', History Workshop Journal (1982)


Davin, Anna. 'Imperialism and Motherhood', History Workshop Journal, 5 (1978)

Digby, Anne. 'Women's Biological Straitjacket' in Mendus and Rendall (eds), Sexuality and Subordination: Interdisciplinary Studies of Gender in the Nineteenth Century

Jalland, Patricia. Women, Marriage and Politics, 1860-1914, Part II

Lewis, J. Labour and Love: Women's Experience of Home and Family, 1850-1940

Marland, Hilary. Dangerous Motherhood: Insanity and Childbirth in Victorian Britain, chs. 1, 5, 6

McLaren, A. Birth Control in Nineteenth-Century England


Clarke, Anna. Women's Silence, Men's Violence: Sexual Assault in England, 1770-1845

D'Cruze, Shani. Crimes of Outrage: Sex, Violence and Victorian Working Women

D'Cruze, Shani. Everyday Violence in Britain, 1850-1950: Gender and Class

Hamilton, S. 'Making History with Frances Power Cobbe: Victorian Feminism, Domestic Violence and the Language of Imperialism', Victorian Studies, 43, 3 (2001)