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The Variable Body in History

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Edited By Chris Mounsey and Stan Booth

The essays in this book explore the different ways the body has been experienced and interpreted in history, from the medieval to the modern period. Challenging the negative perceptions that the term ‘disability’ suggests, the essays together present a mosaic of literary representations of bodies and accounts of real lives lived in their particularity and peculiarity. The book does not attempt to be exhaustive, but rather it celebrates the fact that it is not. By presenting a group of individual cases from different periods in history, the collection demonstrates that any overarching way of describing bodies, or unifying description of the experience of the myriad ways of being in a body, is reductive and unhelpful. The variability of each body in its context is our subject.
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Constructing La Goulue: The Queer, the Criminal and the Cancan

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Using textual analysis and oft-overlooked materials documenting the rise, reinventions and eventual decline of the performer La Goulue (Louise Weber), I aim to shed new light on a celebrity simultaneously marketed as the embodiment of Paris and criticized for her sexual, spatial and social alterity; and how the moralizing of the fin-de-siècle has left an enduring legacy of scandal-mongering and interwoven presumptions around sexuality, crime and performance not only in relation to La Goulue but more broadly.

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