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Title: Charlotte Wolff's contribution to psychology and to the history of sexuality
Author: Brennan, Toni Lee
ISNI:       0000 0004 2706 6157
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2011
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The Charlotte Wolff Archive in the History of Psychology Centre of the British Psychological Society is the only major collection of working papers from individual psychologists that preserves the papers of a woman psychologist, yet Wolff is relatively unknown. This thesis aims to consider her contribution to psychology and to the history of sexuality. In line with a view of history as alive in the present, this also entails engaging Wolff in contemporary debates on gender and sexuality. To this effect, Chapter 1 presents a biographical sketch of Wolff and introduces her legacy, including how the Wolff Archive was acquired and opened for research for the first time for the author of this thesis. Chapter 2 contextualizes Wolff as a woman psychologist in line with a feminist historical project of reclaiming missing voices - which entails a discussion of ways of 'doing history' and 'doing biography' and an examination of the concept of the archive. Chapter 3 considers the history of sexuality and how sexual identities have solidified with the rise of sexology; it also gives an account of the struggle for homosexual emancipation in Germany and of the implications of the 'forgetting' of lesbianism in German and British law, and concludes with some notes on Wolff's contemporaries in lesbian history Radclyffe Hall and Gertrude Stein. Having so contextualized Wolff, the thesis considers in further chapters her contribution to the history of sexuality by examining her autobiographical biographical writings as documents of lesbian history and beyond (Chapter 4), her contribution - with book length studies - to lesbian feminism (Chapter 5) and to theory and research on bisexuality (Chapter 6). Wolff's work as biographer of Magnus Hirschfeld (as well her theorizing of biography) are addressed in Chapter 7. Finally, Chapter 8 offers some conclusions on why Wolff has yet to be fully 'reclaimed' as the previous chapters on her work show that she deserves. Additional reflections are offered on the archive and archival research - at the level of the particular (engaging with the Wolff Archive) and in general terms. Finally, the thesis suggests future lines of enquiry.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available