Technologies of Desire: Typists, Telegraphists and Their Machines in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Henry James’s In the Cage

Issue: Vol 4, No 1: Summer 2012
Pages: 91-105
Author(s): Laura James (SUNY Stony Brook, NY, USA)


Focusing on Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) and Henry James’s In the Cage (1898), this paper examines the eroticising of the female typist and telegraphist during the fin de siècle and the linkages between female sexuality and the female labourer’s textual productions. I aim to trouble the easy connections made by theorists such as Friedrich Kittler between the advent of the typewriter and female emancipation. To conjoin the two unproblematically is to overlook the ways in which such female figures are erotically staged when working. Both Dracula and In the Cage highlight this relationship, as well as the intersections between the female worker and her roles as wife and mother. This paper also suggests a reading of the typist and telegraphist as new types of authors, and concludes by examining the multifarious ways in which the female worker’s body is presented in both texts in relation to their writing machines.

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