one of the good things about studying english lit: you get to read articles entitled “consistent inconsistencies: the transvestite actress madame vestris and charlotte bronte’s shirley.”
it’s really interesting (and quite racy). victorian audiences were turned on my madame vestris’ figure. she was thought to have the “perfect leg.” in fact, it was cast in plaster and sold as “la jambe Vestris.” it sold very quickly. i get this image in my brain of the ninteteenth-century version of the leg lamp in a christmas story (fraaa-giiii-lee… it must be italian!).
i image-googled her, and i find that a lot of illustrations of madame vestris do, indeed, give her very shapely legs:
they look a little mannish, but i suppose that’s appropriate, since she played “breeches parts,” also known as the part of “principal boy.” in these roles women played men — not particularly to create gender ambiguity but rather to highlight female sexuality (men loved to watch madame vestris strut the stage in “abbreviated male outfits”). the most famous of such parts is peter pan.
i love finding articles like this, because they undermine the notion that victorians were straight-laced high-necked losers who refused to acknowledge their own sexualities. i haven’t read the history of sexuality by foucault yet, although i will this semester. apparently he debunks the non-sexual victorian stereotype, as well. go foucault. i always knew i loved you. i tried to find a picture of foucault’s shapely legs, but most of his portraits highlight his shaplier, sexier, bald pate:
so in closing, before i head off to bed…
reasons why i love foucault:
1. the fact that i understand him, which is more than i can say about a lot of theory.
2. i have found him applicable in almost every seminar i’ve taken.
3. he isn’t afraid to tell it like it is when it comes to drawing and quartering.
4. in noun form, he is foucault. in adjective form, he is foucaldian. i still wish it was foucaultian, as that resembles an alien race.
5. his obvious sex appeal.