Sarah Cornish, Fordham University
Sarah Cornish is a doctoral candidate at Fordham University and is concentrating on the modern and postmodern novel. She received her Master's degree from Boston College in 2003. Her interests include representations of the body as inscripted and textualized in relation to memory and the construction of narratives, especially in contemporary Irish fiction. The paper she presents today comes from her additional fascination with the shifting perceptions of the body determined by medical advancement in the 17th and 18th centuries.
'Sprunking' in the Glass: Effeminacy, National Masculinity, Abjection, and the Poet in the Eighteenth Century
A beau, a fop, a dandy, a molly—all these terms connote a negative idea of an "un-man" in an eighteenth century context. During an age where binaries shaped social order, such as man/woman, virtue/vice, selfless/selfish, nation/foreign, any person who exhibited questionable morality or behavior was subject to social scrutiny and judgment. Great interest in studying the literature and culture of the eighteenth century can come through considering the unanswerable questions that emerge in the space between the binary. One particular site of contestation where slippage between distinct binaries occurs is in the figure of the fop. Eighteenth century literature tells us he is vapid, narcissistic, materialistic, idle, and overly sentimental toward fashion. He abuses the English tongue with "French-isms", spends his time with well-bred ladies and his tailors, and sleeps until two in the afternoon. He is soft, weak, and a threat to the character of masculinity and the nation entirely. He wears make-up. He is almost a woman-but not.