Perversity at Work: Munby and Cullwick
DOI link for Perversity at Work: Munby and Cullwick
Perversity at Work: Munby and Cullwick book
Arthur Joseph Munby makes visible the ‘dirty work’ of the Victorian household and turns it into the object of erotic interest rather than a source of pollution. Munby and Cullwick also performed their rejection of conventional gender roles in their scheme to dress Cullwick up as a man and have her pose as Munby’s personal servant. Legal work for Munby brought to the forefront deeply disturbing anxieties about his own autonomy and efficacy as a masculine subject. Munby’s attitude to working-class women was also inflected by Victorian racial ideologies. Working-class women’s labor for Munby made them closer to inhabitants of the colonies than to upper-class white males like himself. Munby’s collection of photographs in this context becomes a gallery of antitypes that help him subvert his interpellation by Victorian class and gender ideologies, and to imaginatively compensate for the division of his own subject position by the division of labor in Victorian society.