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Charles Gough

Languages and Literature, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Queering the Soul: Sexuality and Self-Construction in Victorian Poetry

The principal focus of my thesis is the queer soul in the nineteenth century, as I investigate the ways in which a particular group of male Victorian poets and artists used varying iterations and images of the soul to explore queer self-construction. Across several decades, such figures produced literary and artistic works that foregrounded the soul as a means of examining the intricacies of sexual selfhood.

The writers and artists considered in my research project reimagined – or queered – the familiar motif of the soul in Victorian poetry, in an attempt to comprehend non-heterosexual male identities prior to the emergence of a widespread cultural understanding of sexuality. Experimenting with the (dis)embodied soul, the gendered soul, and the erotic potential of the soul, such figures identified (or contributed to the formation of) a mode through which queer men imagined and expressed themselves throughout the nineteenth century.

Research Area

  • English Language and Literature
  • Languages and Literature

Other Research Interests

  • Life writing
  • Queer studies
  • Visual art