Article Title

Fashionably Late: Queer Temporality and the Restoration Fop


This article argues that we can better understand the important cultural work of the theatrical fop if we examine the way he (or she) queers time. This marks a departure from previous scholarship that has read the fop primarily through a lens of “gendered economy.” By exploring the way time, fashionability, and social politics developed contrapuntally in the period, I argue that the theatrical fop’s repeated performances of fashionable lateness thwart normative temporality. For example, I show how the arrival of the pocket watch and the invention of the minute hand in the late seventeenth century ushered in new ways of thinking about social time, while the fop’s broken pocket watch displayed in A Bold Stroke for a Wife challenges this temporal construct. I show how Sir Fopling Flutter’s insistence on lighting torches in broad daylight in The Man of Mode queers time. I show how Lord Foppington’s long dressing scene in The Relapse rejects family time in favor of queer fashionable lateness. I cite a number of queer theorists, including Judith Halberstam and Lee Edelman, to argue that the fop’s temporal disengagement works against normative social structures – such as regimented clock time, leisure time, and family time – emerging in the late seventeenth century. At stake in my argument is first, a new way to categorize the fop, and second, a case-study in the way drama in general and the fop in particular wrestled with social change and offered alternatives to temporal normativity, both in the playtexts and in the playhouses.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.