Sapphic Crossings: Cross-dressing Women in Eighteenth-century British Literature
Across the eighteenth century in Britain, readers, writers, and theater-goers were fascinated by women who dressed in men's clothing--from actresses on stage who showed their shapely legs to advantage in men's breeches to stories of valiant female soldiers and ruthless female pirates. Spanning genres from plays, novels, and poetry to pamphlets and broadsides, the cross-dressing woman came to signal more than female independence or unconventional behaviors; she also came to signal an investment in female same-sex intimacies and sapphic desires. Sapphic Crossings reveals how various British texts from the period associate female cross-dressing with the exciting possibility of intimate, embodied same-sex relationships. Ula Lukszo Klein reconsiders the role of lesbian desires and their structuring through cross-gender embodiments as crucial not only to the history of sexuality but to the rise of modern concepts of gender, sexuality, and desire. She prompts readers to rethink the roots of lesbianism and transgender identities today and introduces new ways of thinking about embodied sexuality in the past.