Realizing a 'more than earthly paradise of love': Scotland's sexual progressives, 1880-1914

Cheadle, Tanya (2014) Realizing a 'more than earthly paradise of love': Scotland's sexual progressives, 1880-1914. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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In 1889, the Edinburgh-based natural scientist Patrick Geddes predicted a future in which a ‘more than earthly paradise of love’, known previously only to poets and their muses, would be realized. Similar intimations of an imminent utopia of transformed sexual relations were being felt and articulated by other young, progressive men and women in cities across Britain, intent on eradicating what they perceived to be the hypocritical sexual and social conventions of their parents. Within the current historiography, the primary setting for this late-Victorian generational revolt is often considered to be London. This thesis shifts the focus to Scotland, exploring the progressive challenge to Victorian sexual attitudes and behaviour in Glasgow and Edinburgh. It looks in detail at two married couples, Bella and Charles Pearce, and Patrick and Anna Geddes. Both were broadly-speaking feminists and socialists, committed in differing ways to heralding in a new age of egalitarian, altruistic and fraternal relations between the sexes. Both were also responsible for some of the period’s key texts on the Woman Question and the Sex Question, Bella Pearce the editor of ‘Matrons and Maidens’, the first feminist column in a socialist newspaper, and Patrick Geddes the author of 'The Evolution of Sex', a popular science book on the cause of sexual differentiation. Utilizing the methodologies of gender history and the history of sexuality, this thesis analyzes the exact nature of their sexual and gendered discourse, situating it precisely within the wider discursive field of fin de siècle feminist, socialist, scientific, medical, sociological and religious thought. However, it also aims to reflect thoughtfully on the relationship between the couples’ discourse and their subjectivity, examining the ways in which their intimate and social lives affected their ideas about sex. Overall, the thesis argues that whilst in some aspects the sexual and gendered attitudes and behaviour of late-Victorian Scottish sexual progressives were similar to those of feminists and socialists elsewhere in Britain, in other important ways they were different and distinctive. An understanding of them is therefore vital to a full appreciation of the complexities of British progressivism during this period.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: gender, sexuality, progressives, history, socialism, feminism, alternative religion, Christian mysticism, science, Victorian, Edwardian, Patrick Geddes, Anna Geddes, Bella Pearce, Charles Pearce, Lily Bell, Independent Labour Party, Scotland, Glasgow, Edinburgh
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Abrams, Prof Lynn and Gordon, Prof Eleanor
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Ms Tanya Cheadle
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5243
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2014 10:42
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2017 10:55

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