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"A Century in the Baths": Allan Bérubé, Spatial Politics and the History of the Bathhouse
Building upon and extending a historical narrative composed by Allan Bérubé in 1984, this dissertation interrogates the relationship between physical space and sexual practice by engaging in a historiography of gay bathhouses and by comparing representations of these spaces in the past with contemporary narratives available online. An introduction and conclusion bracket three central chapters, each of which presents findings from a major component of the larger project: The first investigates Bérubé’s sources, methods and underlying political philosophies. The second engages in a case-study of the Bulldog Baths (1979-1982), a popular but short-lived establishment in San Francisco, CA. The third presents findings from a content analysis of contemporary bathhouse websites. Throughout, attention is paid to the active role of physical spaces in sexual encounters taking place in bathhouse settings, as well as to the spatial politics of the urban settings in which these establishments have historically operated.