TLT (The Lesbian Talkshow)

Episode 19d: Charlotte Cushman

February 24, 2018

Charlotte Cushman

The Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 19d

Charlotte Cushman was the greatest American actress of the 19th century. So why isn’t she a household name?

In this episode we talk about

  • Cushman’s professional career arc
  • The ways in which 19th century attitudes toward romance and sex affected reception of Cushman’s performances
  • The phenomenon of Romantic Friendship between women, and how it wasn’t necessarily as sexless or as respectable as we’re sometimes led to believe
  • A chronology of Cushman’s many female romantic partners
  • Cushman’s social circle of women intellectuals and artists at her “retirement” home in Rome
  • A discussion of how Cushman’s careful management and curation of her public image, particularly with respect to her lovers, calls into question some of the popular assumptions about Romantic Friendshp and Boston Marriages
  • Why the world desperately needs a TV mini-series about Cushman’s life and social circle

More info

The Lesbian Historic Motif Project lives at:

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This topic is discussed in one or more entries of the Lesbian Historic Motif Project here:

My most useful source for this episode is: Merrill, Lisa. 2000. When Romeo was a Woman: Charlotte Cushman and her Circle of Female Spectators. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. ISBN 978-0-472-08749-5

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