While Robic concludes that Baudelaire remained ambiguous with regard to lesbians, her well-researched and amply documented study nevertheless provides a firm foundation for understanding why Baudelaire and his contemporaries were drawn to sapphism
, how they used (and abused!) Sappho and the lesbian in their poetry, and how the Greek poet served as "un pont" to link Baudelaire's generation of writers to modernity.
These accounts of Hall's public notoriety play nicely against Laura Doan's analysis of "conservative sapphism
." Doan shows how Sackville-West's and Hall's conservative pronouncements about domesticity in mass-market periodicals undercut Shari Benstock's contention that sapphic modernism "constitutes itself through moments of rupture in the social and cultural fabric" (cited in Doan, 95).
In interviews, Potter, in fact, makes it clear that rather than following Woolf in building a critique of sexuality around Sapphism
's suggestiveness, she felt that in the film the figure of lesbianism was actually to be avoided.
Dalloway in this entry reinforces the Sapphism
in the novel.
In the Revolutionary period of the late eighteenth century, rumors about Marie Antoinette and other prominent, politically suspect women gave rise to an image of sapphism
as a secret society, one that threatened to overturn the emerging nation-state.
They appear, respectively, in three diverse texts: Federico Gamboa's best selling novel of 1903, Santa; positivist criminologist Carlos Roumagnac's 1904 study, Los criminales en Mexico; and Heriberto Frias's 1915 cronica-like vignette, "Las inseparables." The preferred term for female same sex desire in these texts is not lesbianism or homosexuality, but "Sapphism
." This concept, as eluded to in early twentieth century Mexican writings, clearly has something to do with sexual relations between women, although it remains uniformly vague in all of them.
Introduced to society in Wales by the grandmother of the Duke of Wellington, who himself was a life-long friend, the ladies eventually seem to have accepted catty remarks about their "sapphism
" by contemporary writers.
Several matters of much potential interest find little or no attention on those ampler planes: the parliamentary logic and rhetoric surrounding the Labouchere amendment of 1885 (under which Wilde's prosecution would proceed), the classical though not exactly homoerotic interests of that Balliol dropout Swinburne, the matter of Victorian sapphism
, the appearance of Oxbridge women classicists (e.g., Jane Ellen Harrison).
As the scholar Samuel Dorf has demonstrated, for instance, when Isadora Duncan started dancing barefoot and uncorseted on a beach near San Francisco and in Parisian drawing rooms, her performances conflated her experience of her own physicality; images repurposed from an 1896 "scientific" classification of the meanings of the figures portrayed on Greek vases--raised arms signaling praise, etc.; popular ideas about the eroticism and "Sapphism
" of antiquity (those flowing tunics must have meant a lot to the literally straight-laced Victorians); assertions about nature and the so-called natural rights that formed the basis of American freedoms; and the nascent ideologies of feminism and universal suffrage.
"'If I saw you would you kiss me?:' Sapphism
and the Subversiveness of Virginia Woolf's Orlando." Sexual Sameness: Textual Differences in Lesbian and Gay Writing.
A longer version of her essay appears in her forthcoming Fashioning Sapphism
: The Origins of a Modern English Lesbian Culture.