As Michael Warner and Lauren Berlant have argued, it was in the eighteenth century that “hierarchies of property and propriety” were consolidated as heteronormative principles. This normativity has also shaped modern epistemologies, often rendering eighteenth-century scholarship, including scholarship on women and gender, more heteronormative than the period itself, to the potential distortion of the field. Hans Turley’s pathbreaking work on pirate societies shows how single-sex social formations managed to set standards of normative masculinity while also playing out homoerotic desires. As a way to uncover the more domestic anti-heteronormativities in women’s history, this essay turns to Amanda Vickery’s important studies, The Gentleman’s Daughter (1998) and Behind Closed Doors (2009) to uncover investments in a heteronormative epistemology that Vickery’s own source materials do not necessarily support. Formulating five axiomatic practices that can be applied widely, this exploration identifies queer pockets in seemingly straight archives as a method for historicized critique. This project aims not only to delineate a queerer eighteenth century, but to show that the boundaries of heteronormativity itself cannot be understood apart from the resistant and divergent practices that lie within and outside it. Such scholarly strategies make it clear that the eighteenth century is much more, and much less, than a heteronormative plot.


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pp. 273-290
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