Annual workshop

Saturday 24 September 2022 Annual Workshop: Women on the Margins: Interrogating the notion of marginal status (1558 – 1837) in-person at The Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N 1AZ 10:30 – 16:30 BST. 

Fee, including lunch, refreshments and entry to The Foundling Museum: £23 non-WSG members; £19 WSG members; £17 unwaged and student WSG members. 

Registration is now open via Eventbrite (see link below). This link will close at 10:30 on Friday 16th September.

Organiser : Miriam Al Jamil. Contact email for dietary requirements, participant slides and queries:  

Workshop Schedule: 

10:30 Registration and distribution of materials

11:00 Keynote ‘On the Margins: Interrogating the notion of marginal status in the Long Eighteenth Century’. Speakers are Dr Karen Lipsedge (Kingston University) and  Dr Emma Newport (University of Sussex). Samuel Richardson’s Pamela (1740) is used to discuss the representation of female fictional heroines who problematise heteronormative notions of social class and gender, with a discussion of Highmore’s painting, Pamela and Lady Davers (1743).

12:15 – 13:15 Lunch (included)

13:15 – 15:45 Participant presentations. All participants are invited to prepare a 5-minute presentation from any discipline, related to the theme of ‘Women on the Margins: Interrogating the notion of marginal status (1558 – 1837)’.

These presentations should focus on women, imaginary, fictional or real, who might be considered as being on the margins, or in borderlands, and the ways in which they experience, navigate, and/or disrupt this characterisation. It is useful if participants provide 20 printed handouts and/or a couple of PowerPoint slides. Slides should be emailed in advance to  (This session includes a tea break)

Detailed presentation timings will be uploaded after the registration deadline.

15:45 – 16:30 Summing up and closing discussion led by Dr Lipsedge & Dr Newport. 

Additional notes on the Keynote: ‘On the Margins: Interrogating the notion of marginal status in the Long Eighteenth Century’.

In Women on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-century Lives (1995), Natalie Zemon Davis used the notion of women on the margins to provide a framework for retrieving women’s lives from obscurity. In more recent years, the phrase ‘at the margins’ or ‘on the margins’ has been deployed across disciplines and in a wide variety of different contexts, including, but not limited to, refugee studies (Poyil, 2022); inclusive pedagogies (Yap, 2022); film and television studies (Tasker, 2022; Kac-Vergne and Assouly, 2022); criminology (Boppre, 2019); politics (Vlase and Baluta, 2022); library and information studies (Chou, Pho and Roh, 2018); and literature (Csengei, 2012; Villar-Argaiz, 2018). Two key observations emerge: firstly, the importance of women’s studies to the interdisciplinary discussion of the question of margins; and, secondly, that the nature of the margins and the notion of the marginal are ones that invite contestation. Clisby (2020), for instance, draws on border thinking, postcolonial and transnational feminisms, and queer theory in her work on ‘queering the margins’ in literary, cinematic, and cultural ‘borderlands’. It is upon this latter point that this workshop turns: how might we ‘queer the margins’ in our readings of women of the long eighteenth century?

To start the 2022 WSG Annual Workshop, Emma and Karen will use Samuel Richardson’s Pamela (1740) to discuss the representation of female fictional heroines who problematise heteronormative notions of social class and gender, opening with a discussion of Highmore’s painting of ‘Pamela and Lady Davers’ (1743). It is hoped that Emma and Karen’s discussion will facilitate a wider conversation with Workshop participants on how existing ideas of marginality may be ‘queered’ through new intersectional readings of class, gender, disability, race and sexuality. How, and with what consequence, might academics approach the plurality suggested in the use of ‘margins’? What kinds of borderlands might we identify in the long eighteenth-century  and how are they represented in literature, material culture, architecture and design, exterior public spaces etc ? In what ways are these borderlands navigated and/or experienced, and what forms of disruption take place? These are just some of the questions we hope to interrogate at the 2022 WSG Workshop.

Indicative reading list

Ballaster, R., (1998). Introduction. In: Seductive Forms: Women’s Amatory Fiction from 1684 to 1740. United Kingdom: Clarendon Press.

Clisby, S. (2020). Framing the Margins. In: Gender, Sexuality and Identities of the Borderlands: Queering the Margins. (2020). United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis.

Csengei, I. (2012). Introduction: Sensibility from the Margins. In: Sympathy, Sensibility and the Literature of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century. Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Cultures of Print. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Davis, N. Z. (1995). Women on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-century Lives. United Kingdom: Harvard University Press.

Farr, J.S. (2021). Disability as Metaphor and Lived Experience in Samuel Richardson’s Pamela and Sarah Scott’s Millenium HallStudies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 50, 309-312. doi:10.1353/sec.2021.0024.


The Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837 annual workshop typically takes place  at The Foundling Museum, London.  The one-day workshop includes lunch, as well as refreshments, in the booking cost.  The day always follows the same format: a distinguished invited speaker provides the keynote in the morning, followed by discussion and lunch; then participants each give a 5-minute presentation on a subject relevant to the theme of the keynote, followed by discussion, and then the close of the workshop.  Previous speakers have included Professor Judith Hawley  of Royal Holloway, University of London, Professor Laura Gowing of King’s College London and Professor Jeanice Brooks of the University of Southampton.


Hammerwood Park Summer visit Wednesday 15 June 2022

WSG member Dr Penelope Cave LRAM GRSM ARAM PhD, FISM PhD performed Sonata no V in G major, written by Dr Charles Burney on a harpsichord in their eighteenth-century drawing room. Penelope then moved to an early piano to perform Le Séjour Agréable, Op.2 by his grand-daughter, Cecilia Burney. 

A review of this visit will be posted shortly. 



























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