Drunk with the Glitter : Space, Consumption and Sexual Instability in Modern Urban Culture book cover
1st Edition

Drunk with the Glitter
Space, Consumption and Sexual Instability in Modern Urban Culture

ISBN 9780415061315
Published December 20, 2007 by Routledge
224 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $46.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Drunk with the Glitter examines the ways in which urban modernity reshapes 'cultural experience'. In particular, it explores the ways that categories of sexual identity and behaviour were reformulated in relation to the restructuring of urban space and the introduction of new cultures of consumption in a period of modernization.

How did the 'altered conditions' of postwar Britain help to inaugurate new patterns of sociability, cultural attachment and intimate encounter?

Each chapter focuses on an area of public controversy which directed attention to those forms of sexual instability identified as threatening to national cohesion, including:

  • sexual excitations in World War Two Britain
  • the identification of  the 'problem girl'
  • 'distractibility' and 'synthetic culture' in postwar Britain
  • prostitution in new cosmopolitan cultures in the 1950s
  • Lawrence of Arabia and debates over male homosexuality in the 1950s
  • the scandalous figure of Stephen Ward in the Profumo Affair.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Urban Modernity and Sexual Instability - Space, Movement and Dispersal  1. 'So Much Money and So Little to Spend It On': Sexual Excitations and Familial Devotions  2. 'The Gratification of the Moment ... The Limit of their Mental Horizon': Eugenics, Psychology and the 'Problem Girl'  3. 'Shattered into a Multiplicity of Warring Functions': Synthetic Culture, Disintegration and 'Distractibility'  4. 'A Harlot Hires a Car': Prostitution, Dispersal and Displacement in the Wolfenden Report  5. Homosexuality, Seduction and Psychosis: 'Flying and Drowning' with 'Lawrence of Arabia'  6. 'Good Time Girls' and a 'Thoroughly Filthy Fellow': Sexual Pathology and National Character in the Profumo Affair

View More



Gillian Swanson is Reader in Cultural History at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Her research focuses on the cultural history of private life, sexual identity and behaviour, and cultures of consumption and entertainment, particularly in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain. Her previous publications include Nationalising Femininity: Culture, Sexuality and British Cinema in the Second World War (1996, co-editor Christine Gledhill) and Deciphering Culture: Ordinary Curiosities and Subjective Narratives (2000, co-authors Jane Crisp and Kay Ferres).


'Women of easy virtue and thoroughly filthy fellows, ageing roues and problem girls, harlots in cars and perfect poppets: Gillian Swanson provides a dazzling gallery of the sexualised figures who inhabited the urban landscape of an emergent modern Britain. She combines a breathtaking story, full of drama and pathos, with sharp-eyed analytical interpretation. With compelling audacity she places the sexualised pathologies of twentieth-century Britain at the very heart of our understanding of how modern life works. Swanson delivers an incomparable, wry backward glance at the disorderly nation, her own sympathies evident on every page.' - Bill Schwarz, Queen Mary, University of London, UK

'The detailed descriptions of historically grounded psychological, policy and social management perspectives, the disciplines that sought to define deviance in the landscape of post-war Britain, offer much to researchers of transgressive urban cultures.' - Urban Studies