The Centre for the History of European Discourses was incorporated in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in August 2015.

The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.

Like the two women who made up the duality of Michael Field, Olive Custance and Natalie Barney each moved in worlds of social privilege which masked the political inequalities between men and women. There was an aristocratic vein of aestheticism at the turn of the century in which the socially elect pursued dreams of unlimited sensual gratification, a cloudy world of erotic royalty, where all the players could aspire to be prince or princess, and where ordinary human suffering was banished from the picture. The possession of wealth and rank was a deradicalising experience. Yet for women who longed to rebel against the conformities of class and who also longed to excel in the art of poetry, there was still one sure path to flouting conventional sensibilities and achieving notoriety and that was the forbidden path of sexual deviance.

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