Reminder: WSG seminar February 2022

The fifth seminar of the year takes place on Saturday, 26 February 2022 (GMT).

This seminar will take place on Zoom. Please be aware, you must be a member of the WSG to gain access to the Zoom sessions. The links are distributed through our WSG mailing list 24-hours before the event. Becoming a member means you will be able to attend the Zoom and in-person seminars for the 2021-2022 season.


Brianna Robertson-Kirkland

Platonic and Romantic Relationship in the Music Room: Venanzio Rauzzini (1746-1810) and Elizabeth Gooch (1757-1807)

Plays and novels often romanticised clandestine relationships, typically depicting the music master as an Italian, whose charm and skills would easily bend a weak-willed woman. It should come as no surprise then that the attractive and popular singer turned singing master, Venanzio Rauzzini would also be accused of engaging in romantic relationship with a student. He was named in a highly publicised divorce, accused of having an affair Elizabeth Sarah Real Villa Gooch in 1779, who in turn published an account of their relationship in An Appeal to the Public On the Conduct of Mrs. Gooch (1788) and again in her later memoirs The Life of Mrs Gooch (1792). Though Rauzzini would never publicly discuss the scandal and Gooch always maintained their relationship was platonic, the publication almost certainly benefitted from the inclusion of his name. This paper will examine some of the reasons why Rauzzini and Gooch’s were suspected of having a romantic relationship and why it was important for music masters to maintain a platonic relationship with his female students.

 Yasmin Solomonescu

Women, Rhetoric, and Rhetorical Theory

My paper examines the rhetorical theories and practices of British women writers in the long eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a period in which women were widely considered to speak much and say little. In recent decades scholars have begun to recover a women’s tradition of rhetoric and rhetorical theory in the period ca. 1660-1900, albeit a highly discontinuous and heterogeneous one. My paper further delineates this tradition while signalling important departures. The first section focuses on three major topics of debate as they anchored the tradition: the role of sexual difference in habits of expression, the due degree of publicity for women’s rhetoric, and the aims of that rhetoric, particularly in relation to a patriarchal social and rhetorical order. The second section of the paper considers how these debates are pursued in surprising directions in the teenage writings of Jane Austen. Focusing on the unfinished story ‘Kitty, or the Bower’ (ca. 1792-93) and—time permitting—the epistolary novella Lady Susan (ca. 1794), I argue for Austen’s highly original, even idiosyncratic, contributions to the history of rhetoric. Austen, I contend, urges us to reconsider the sites, strategies, aims, and values associated with rhetoric, as well as the very meaning of rhetorical theory.

For further information, see our seminars page.  To join the WSG, see our membership page.

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