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Sapphic Crossings

Cross-Dressing Women in Eighteenth-Century British Literature
Ula Lukszo Klein

BUY Cloth · 258 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813945507 · $95.00 · Feb 2021
BUY Paper · 258 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813945514 · $32.50 · Feb 2021
BUY Ebook · 258 pp. · ISBN 9780813945521 · $24.50 · Feb 2021

Across the eighteenth century in Britain, readers, writers, and theater-goers were fascinated by women who dressed in men’s clothing—from actresses on stage who showed their shapely legs to advantage in men’s breeches to stories of valiant female soldiers and ruthless female pirates. Spanning genres from plays, novels, and poetry to pamphlets and broadsides, the cross-dressing woman came to signal more than female independence or unconventional behaviors; she also came to signal an investment in female same-sex intimacies and sapphic desires. Sapphic Crossings reveals how various British texts from the period associate female cross-dressing with the exciting possibility of intimate, embodied same-sex relationships. Ula Lukszo Klein reconsiders the role of lesbian desires and their structuring through cross-gender embodiments as crucial not only to the history of sexuality but to the rise of modern concepts of gender, sexuality, and desire. She prompts readers to rethink the roots of lesbianism and transgender identities today and introduces new ways of thinking about embodied sexuality in the past.


Klein is able to make arguments about the ubiquity and importance of cross-dressing women for a variety of different audiences. The clarity and liveliness of the writing will appeal to readers new to Klein’s subjects as well as the experts, who will appreciate the originality of her arguments.

Kristina Straub, Carnegie Mellon University, author of Domestic Affairs: Intimacy, Eroticism, and Violence between Servants and Masters in Eighteenth-Century Britain

An original and engaging contribution to queer, feminist, and eighteenth-century studies.

Lisa L. Moore, University of Texas at Austin · Sister Arts: The Erotics of Lesbian Landscapes

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