Abstract for 2008 Honors Colloquium

Maria Booth


"Prostitutes, Fear, and Public Space in Britain's Long Nineteenth Century"

The goal of my research is to investigate the ways in which prostitutes, and specifically prostitutes in public spaces, were used as a symbol for the multiple fears that arose in British society during the long nineteenth century. These fears ranged in content from economic anxieties, to the control of women, to more specific concerns over public health and international relations. The rhetoric used against prostitutes coincides with the progression of these anxieties, suggesting that the true nature of public concern over prostitutes was not necessarily about sex as a commodity; rather, these women acted as an outlet through which contemporaries could express their broader, perhaps more complicated fears during the period, many of which related directly to the use of public space.