My current work explores the representation of sexual fluidity in 19th and 20th century French literature. Through a queer theory lens, I investigate the consequences of erotic writing, its contrast with the pornographic, and its impact on visual representation of written work.

The interrogation of gender identity, sexual experience, and personal narrative creates a sense of unity in my research. Though autofiction as a genre did not emerge as an independent field until the late 1970s, it is certainly present in literature throughout the ages. By specifically pinpointing 19th century poetry as my starting point, I seek to gauge trends throughout the long 20th century that both embraced and rejected sexually explicit accounts across literary fields.

The second concern of my research focuses on artistic illustrations that accompany or were inspired by erotic texts. Late 19th century French poetry in particular inspired numerous accounts of clandestinely published, obscenely illustrated volumes of popular authors’ work. The link between the page and the picture blurs the erotic/pornographic boundary and invites criticism and celebration of the genre and its implications on contemporary audiences.

My work contributes to the ongoing debate over the implications of pornography by situating visual and textual representations of sexually explicit content in historical and artistic contexts.

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