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Inaugural Lecture Series - Professor Heike Bauer

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Birkbeck

Room B01, Clore Management Centre

Torrington Square

London

WC1E 7JL

United Kingdom

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Fancy That! The Invention of the Dangerous Dog and other Queer Histories

The idea that there is a distinct type of dangerous dog has taken firm hold in the British popular imagination, despite much evidence suggesting that Breed Specific Legislation does not reduce dog attacks. Where does this idea come from? And what really motivates the debates that surround it?

Professor Heike Bauer will discuss the emergence of the concept of the dangerous dog in nineteenth-century England and Wales in her inaugural lecture.

The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception.


Lecture Summary:

Dog control legislation was first introduced at this time of rapid social transformation in nineteenth-century England in an attempt to halt the spread of rabies. It was deeply controversial, enmeshed from the outset in inflammatory debates about perceived threats to Victorian society. The rabid mutt quickly came to symbolize fears about the infectious potential of bodies marked dangerous by poverty, deprivation and foreignness. At the same time, Victorian dog fanciers concerned with form as much as function started to champion a new form of canine purity, fashioning many of the modern dog breeds and related pet and sporting industries. The lecture will consider the social fears and fascinations projected onto dogs and what they reveal about human prejudice and discrimination. But it also seeks to move beyond the treatment of canines as mere metaphors for human concerns. Concluding with a discussion of the lives of two specific dogs –Wotan and Thorgills-of-Tredholt, dachshunds owned by Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge – it will show that attention to historical dogs can complicate and enrich our understanding of the past, in this case revealing surprising insights into the connections between the worlds of dog showing and modern Sapphist culture.



Heike Bauer is Professor of Modern Literature and Cultural History and Head of the Department of English & Humanities at Birkbeck College, University of London. She has published widely on sexology, literature and the modern history of sexuality, and on the rise of queer and feminist graphic novels. Her most recent books include (ed.) Sexology and Translation: Cultural and Scientific Encounters Across the Modern World (Temple UP, 2015) and The Hirschfeld Archives: Violence, Death, and Modern Queer Culture (Temple UP, 2017).




This lecture is part of our upcoming inaugaral lecture series, make sure to check the Birkbeck events page for details about future events that you may be interested in. You can see an example of a previous lecture, given by Professor Almuth McDowell, here.



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Birkbeck

Room B01, Clore Management Centre

Torrington Square

London

WC1E 7JL

United Kingdom

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