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Sexual and Social Politics in Victorian London
Seth Koven

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"Slumming is a provocative, insightful study of one set of contradictions embedded in the ideology underlying Victorian middle- and upper-class relationships with the poor. . . . Seth Koven has written more than a fine contribution to the historiography of Victorian poverty: this is a book that makes one think, about the present as well as the past."--Deborah Gorham, Labour/Le Travail

"With assurance and grace, Slumming synthesizes the methods, topics, and insights of urban studies, gender history, queer studies, media analysis, and social history. . . . Slumming does an exemplary job of integrating men and women into a single historical framework."--Sharon Marcus, Victorian Studies

"Koven analyzes complex dynamics with non-judgmental subtlety. This fine-tuned approach allows Koven to dissect the uneven power dynamics of slumming a settlement work in a more nuanced fashion than many before him."--Matt Cook, History Workshop Journal

"Slumming is a well-written and -researched book that will be of great use to scholars in history, literature, women's studies, and gay studies. Koven is a gifted writer and has used newspapers, novels, institutional records and newsletters, and several pictures and artworks to make his case. It is also a beautifully produced book, though the absence of a bibliography, particularly in such a thoroughly researched study, is frustrating. Still, Slumming will stimulate historical and literary work for many years; it asks important questions and gives fascinating answers."--Ginger Frost, H-Net

"Slumming is a highly readable and important reassessment of the late Victorian phenomenon of visiting and experiencing the poverty of the East End first-hand. . . . Despite the book's heavily theoretical base, Koven's prose races along, imparting a page-turning quality in places. Koven is excellent at exploring the little-known corners of the world of the 'slummers.'"--Antony Taylor, H-Net Reviews


"Arresting. Koven's scholarship is excellent, and this book will appeal across a wide range of disciplines."--James Epstein, Vanderbilt University

"New, fresh and original. Koven is an indefatigable and energetic researcher, and he looks at cross-class benevolence and the settlement house movement from a new perspective."--Susan Pedersen, Columbia University

"This is a brilliantly crafted, deeply researched, and provocative cultural history. Seth Koven paints a vivid picture of Victorian and Edwardian slummers and the social and sexual politics that impelled their urban journeys. This book is essential reading for cultural critics, historians, urbanists, and scholars of gender and sexuality. It is interdisciplinary history of the highest order."--Judith R. Walkowitz, author of City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian London

"Slumming adds a new and vital dimension to the modern history of London. Historians have spent much time examining the changing condition of outcast London but little on those whose investigations and explorations revealed that condition. As Seth Koven reveals, 'slumming' was more than a matter of religious or political concern. It was exciting, transgressive, and a way of discovering or releasing another person within the self."--Gareth Stedman Jones, author of Outcast London

"Seth Koven's much awaited Slumming gives us a vivid, authoritative, and astute new history of the Victorian phenomenon that took hundreds of middle-class men and women into urban 'nether worlds' of poverty and deprivation. More than any other previous chronicler of this cultural trend, Koven makes clear that motives for slumming were complex and morally ambiguous. He also reminds us that Victorian renderings of children and the poor inaugurated a tradition of representation in which compassion and voyeurism coexist uncomfortably and, perhaps, inevitably."--Deborah Epstein Nord, author of Walking the Victorian Streets: Women, Representation, and the City

"The stories Seth Koven tells in Slumming and his insights and analyses of them are intriguing and convincing. The reader will be fascinated by his intertwining of sexuality, particularly in its homoerotic dimension, with activities designed to help the poor. This brilliant book helps us better to understand both the past and the present."--Peter Stansky, author of Sassoon: The Worlds of Philip and Sybil

"Subtle, elegant, and insightful, Koven's book explores the remote, difficult world of Victorian philanthropy. It brings to life the wealthy men and women and their relations with poor, and far from deferential, slum-dwellers in all their complexity and confusion. Superbly written and wonderfully readable."--Pat Thane, author of Old Age in English History: Past Experiences, Present Issues

"Slumming is a brilliant exploration of urban class and gender relations as seen through the lens of philanthropy. Koven writes cultural history at its best."--Lynn Hollen Lees, author of The Solidarities of Strangers: The Poor Laws and the People, 1700-1948

"This is a wonderful book, replete with fresh insights about the complex relations between educated Victorians and the urban poor. A rich, compelling addition to our understanding of the past."--Martha Vicinus, University of Michigan, author of Intimate Friends: Women Who Loved Women, 1778-1928

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File created: 4/21/2017

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