Current Students

Elizabeth Schlappa

In the early eighteenth century, masturbation began a transformation from minor religious sin to an overwhelming medical and moral concern. My project aims to explore medical and cultural portrayals of female masturbation, and its relationship to changing constructions of femininity over the long eighteenth century. Existing scholarship in this area emphasises male masturbation and Enlightenment masculinities, and consequently struggles to explain why female autoeroticism became so concerning in this era. In contrast, this project focuses on female masturbation as a distinct cultural entity in a range of contexts, including elite and vernacular medical writing; art, erotica and pornography; and didactic literature, including conduct books and novels. The project also includes a comparative angle by exploring cultural representations of syphilis, and how this differed from portrayals of masturbatory disease.

Supervisory Team: Prof. Helen Berry, History, Classics and Archaeology (Newcastle), Dr. Jonathan Andrews, History, Classics and Archaeology (Newcastle).

Start Date: September 2017.