School of Cultural Studies and Humanities

Leeds Cultural Conversations - Vernon Lee

Delivering the third talk in the 2019/20 Leeds Cultural Conversations series in February, Ruth Robbins talked about the fin-de-siecle writer Vernon Lee (real name Violet Paget) and how she used the genre conventions of the ghost story to speak of desires that in her own time had very little visibility.

Oil painting of woman in black dress with white collar

The lesbian is a figure who has been marginalised and even erased from literary history. Unlike the much more visible gay man, strategies for representing female same-sex desires are considerably more coded and covert.

In Lee’s work the lesbian ghost is fleeting – now you see her, now you don’t. But the very fact of her appearance expresses the will to be both seen and heard. The work of recovering that story is an important part of lesbian literary history.

This event took place during LGBTQ History Month and was part of the Leeds Cultural Conversations series organised by the Centre for Culture and the Arts at Leeds Beckett University.

Professor Ruth Robbins

Director of Research / Cultural Studies & Humanities

Ruth Robbins is Professor in English Literature and Director of Research for the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities. She has a wide range of research interests which span the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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