Sarah is interested in late nineteenth-century ways of thinking about sexual health and disease, particularly as these influenced literature and literary culture. Her work asks how far ideas about sexual wellbeing impact upon wider ethical thinking, and what especially characterized this relationship in this period. Sarah’s current book project looks at representations in late nineteenth-century Decadent literature of sexual continence or abstinence as an appropriate, healthful and productive part of an aesthetic life, and how these intersect with expressions of anxiety about the conditions of modernity, and the place of the artist and aesthete in modern societies. It focuses on the work of Walter Pater, Lionel Johnson, Vernon Lee, and George Moore, and reads this alongside a wide range of Victorian writings about sexual health, from medical journals and self-help pamphlets to feminist and social purity publications.
Nineteenth and twentieth century literature, aestheticism and decadence, literature and medicine, literature and science, literature and sexuality, history of sexuality
‘The Problem of Sex in J. M. Barrie’s Fiction’, English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920, 60:2 (January, 2017), 185-209 [open access].
‘The Undeveloped Body of Lionel Johnson’, Notes and Queries, 63:2 (June, 2016), 281-83 [open access].
‘“A Secret Pleasure in Being Mastered”: Pleasure and Power in the Work of J. M. Barrie’, in Sarah Shaw et al. eds, Beyond the Garden Party: Rethinking Edwardian Culture (Routledge, forthcoming).