Date of Award

Fall 2018

Document Type


Terms of Use

© 2018 Marit Vike. All rights reserved. This work is freely available courtesy of the author. It may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


History Department

First Advisor

Robert Weinberg


This essay examines the relationship between the police, the public, and those who engaged in homosexual practices in the nineteenth century in London. By specifically looking at a case study of the agent provocateurs in London’s public urinals using newspapers, individual confessions, and public committee reports, this essay attempts to show how this space battle to regulate public space can be an example for how the broader regulation of sexual deviancy has been exercised. I contend that the fact that the compromising methods of agent provocateurs in the twentieth century provoked counter investigations and public backlash, demonstrates how increased efforts to protect public space and “masculinity” from the effeminate “other” engaging in homosexual behavior reversed the nineteenth century process of repression by silence. This counter movement led to an increased discourse and visibility of homosexuality, and even diminished the legitimacy of the police to serve as torchbearers of masculinity. These consequences ultimately threatened the strength of gender and sexual norms, which was the complete opposite of the state’s intention.

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