This is the first book to examine Schubert's songs as active shaping forces in the culture of their era rather than as mere reflections of it. Responding to rising new forms of social organisation, Schubert discovered that songs could serve as a medium for shuffling and reshuffling the basic building blocks of identity and desire, especially sexual desire. His songs project a kaleidoscopic array of unexpected human types, all of whom are eligible for a sympathetic response, even the strangest and most disconcerting. Schubert sought to validate these subjective types without subordinating them to a central social or sexual norm. The book describes and contextualises this process and tracks it concretely in a wide variety of songs. Combining close attention to both music and poetry, the book addresses both specialists and non-specialists in a lively, accessible style unburdened by excessive jargon.