Masculinity, sex and the national past

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper explores various ways in which the sexual codes and conventions from British history have been reconstructed in television historical drama. The sexual norms, behaviours and transgressions of the past, often incomprehensible, strange or confusing to contemporary audiences have in television period adaptations been re-presented in ways that make sense or are acceptable to mainstream modern viewers. The televisual representations of historical sexual practices have been carried out in numerous ways in television drama with fidelity to historical factuality ranging from casting light on and explaining sexual practices of the past to excusing, reconstructing or even disregarding them. Contemporary series such as Camelot and The Borgias offer pasts where, be it in dark age times or medieval times, in Italy or in England, sex is conducted in a modern, athletic and spectacular manner. Rather than commenting on or giving access to the sexual practices of the past, these series instead accommodate an international consensus image of Western heterosexual WASP ascendency.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - Feb 2012
EventAdapting Historical Narratives Conference - De Montfort University, Leicester, United Kingdom
Duration: 28 Feb 201229 Feb 2012

Academic conference

Academic conferenceAdapting Historical Narratives Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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