Material and Visual Cultures Beyond Male Bonding, 1870-1914 presents the first cross-disciplinary analysis of the visual and material representations and spaces of male same-sex culture in turn-of-the-century Britain which positions intimacy as its central object. Through both historical and theoretical lenses, this groundbreaking study considers photographs, interior design, decorative art, architecture and illustrations from the popular press to reveal the interwoven narratives of intimacy, aesthetics and identity. The author sustains close readings to expose the challenges the representations of 'men together' posed not only for the men of the time, but also for the contemporary viewer and scholar.
’Potvin excels in carefully detailing historical and cultural contexts; in identifying tensions, points of contradiction, and fractures in the various discourses he examines; and in elucidating those boundaries that curtailed intimacy between men but also prompted a desire for more. … He is throughout a skilled critic of visual cultures - in particular of Crane's drawings and of photographic portraits.’ Victorian Studies
’This pioneering book says something truly significant about the epistemology of art history’s closet and the presence/absence of the queer in the writing of art’s histories. Like feminism of the late twentieth century, queer theory of the early twentieth-first century is now a maturing field and art history needs to respond to its call not just for interventions in the re-writing/thinking/understanding of historical figures, events, movements but also, as Potvin suggests, for a fundamental shift in paradigmatic thinking. This book, thus, offers not only new ways to think about paradigms of representing and reading the male body but also more expressly about the interrelationship of the decorative and the queer.’ Art History
Contents: Intimacy: looking through material and visual remnants; Bodies beyond the frame: emulation, homosociability and a queer decorative ideal; Crafting bodies of desire: C.R. Ashbee and the Lads; Steamy boundaries: Turkish baths, homosocial health and male bodies on display; 'Friendship as a way of life': subjectivity and visions of desire; 'The ideal divide: the closet; Select bibliography; Index.