Reminder: WSG seminar April 2021

The seventh seminar of the year takes place on Saturday, 12.50pm (BST), 17 April 2021.

This meeting will be delivered on Zoom. All meetings will start promptly at 12.50 BST (with arrivals from 12.30 onward to allow for necessary preparations and administration). We aim to finish by 2.50pm. If you would like to attend, please make sure your membership is up-to-date to receive the Zoom link.

April 17, 2021

Francesca Saggini: From St Martin’s Street to “Camilla Cottage.” Frances Burney’s Houses between Fact and Fantasy.

Anna Jamieson: “Comforts in her Calamity”: Dorothea Fellowes’s Shopping and Spending in the late Eighteenth-Century Private Madhouse.                       

Julie Vig: Women and martiality in the Sikh literature of early modern Punjab.

Early Modern Women: Lives, Texts, Objects. Edited by Martine van Elk. https://martinevanelk.wordpress.com/ Accessed 11 February 2020.

Martine van Elk’s Early Modern Women: Lives, Texts, Objects is a fascinating blog that offers interdisciplinary and comparative analysis of early modern women authors and artists. The blog emphasizes that authorship, writing, and artistic endeavors were often interlinked as different aspects of self-expression. It has a search function, as well as an archive drop down by month and a category filter with options such as courtesans, biography, marriage, and religious women. Van Elk also accepts guest posts, which seem to represent more than half of the entries.

Its greatest strength is that Van Elk highlights the lives and works of a transnational group of women, typically English and Dutch, which reflects her 2017 monograph on early modern women writers in England and the Dutch Republic. She argues that seventeenth-century women need to be examined from a cross-cultural perspective to more fully understand the collective experience of early modern women as a whole.

The blog is suitable for both a general and a scholarly audience, as she highlights little know women and topics that could be introductory to students and those interested in the early modern period, yet every entry contains a section with references for further reading and most entries engage with the historiography of the subject. The entries are typically about 2,000 words and take many different foci, from one single object, such as the handkerchief (18 September 2016), to a theme, such as mottos (18 October 2016) or engraving (22 February 2017), to case studies of a specific woman or group of women, such as Celia Fiennes (18 June 2018) and Susanna Teellinck (10 July 2019).

My favorite entry is on female engravers, one written by Van Elk herself. In this post, Van Elk explores to what extent copper engraving was a gendered activity, in that it would have taken place in a male-dominated print shop. She finds print-making to be a collaborative activity between a designer, engraver, and publisher. Seventeenth-century female engravers were rare, but when known, it seems like they also had male relatives who were engravers and they worked within a family business. Magdalena van de Passe (1600–1638) was daughter and sister to male Dutch engravers, and created prints by the time she was 14 years old. Her engravings often were derivative of other engravers, which Van Elk suggests could be understood as translations, in the way that translation of texts was a more suitable activity for women than was original writing.
Sadly, the most recent blog entry is from July 2019, and it was written by a guest. As many of Van Elk’s own posts stemmed from research for her 2017 book, hopefully new posts will arrive as she works on her own new research. She is also a main contributor to the Early Modern Female Book Ownership blog (previously reviewed here), where her newest entries can be found.

Valerie Schutte
Independent Scholar

Valerie Schutte has published widely on royal Tudor women, book dedications, and queenship. Her second monograph, Princesses Mary and Elizabeth Tudor and the Royal Gift Book Exchange, will be published with ARC Humanities Press in 2021.

Adventurous wives digital conference: Call for papers

NB: This conference is not run by the WSG. Please get in touch with the organisers directly for more information.

After postponement last year due to the Coronavirus, Chawton House will now be host to an online conference in May 2021, and the conference organisers, Dr Alison Daniell and Dr Kim Simpson have reopened the CfP:

In Charlotte Lennox’s 1752 novel, The Female Quixote, an eighteenth-century Countess is horrified when she is asked by the romance-obsessed heroine to relate her ‘adventures’, professing:

‘The word adventures carries in it so free and licentious a sound in the apprehensions of people at this period of time, that it can hardly with propriety be applied to those few and natural incidents which compose the history of a woman of honour.’

The idea that during the long eighteenth century virtuous wives were increasingly relegated to the domestic/private sphere, their legal and economic identities subsumed into that of their husbands, is a long-standing one. However, recent and ongoing research is challenging the orthodoxy of this narrative and demonstrating that the roles available to married women were more complex, nuanced and dynamic than mainstream assumptions have generally allowed. For example, Elaine Chalus has explored women’s engagement with politics and the electoral process; Joanne Begiato’s examination of the divorce process has shed light on the lived experience of married women; Amy Louise Erikson has interrogated the laws relating to women’s property ownership; and Briony McDonagh has examined inter alia how landowning wives managed the combined duties of married life and estate management.

However, research specifically relating to ‘wives’ is often buried amongst the wider topic of ‘women’, and cross-disciplinary patterns and conclusions relating purely to married women may be lost or go unrecognised.
On Friday 14th and Saturday 15th May, Chawton House will host a two-day digital conference to bring these revisionist narratives together and examine the role(s) of the wife as seen through the fields of literature, social and economic history, law, art history and material culture.

Papers are invited on the following topics:

• The economic and financial autonomy of women following marriage
• Feme sole traders
• The visibility of single versus married women in the literature of the period
• Wives’ involvement in politics and public life
• Working wives
• Women and the divorce process
• Inheritance and the transmission of property through the female line
• Trusts, property ownership and separate estate
• Wives as educators
• Conduct literature and wives
• The married woman as literary heroine
• Quasi-marriages and kept Mistresses
• The married female body
• Material culture, fashion and taste
• Housewifery
• Wives as guardians of morality and social order
• The historiography of the wife: change or continuity?

We would prefer delegates to pre-record their talks, submitting them by 15 April, but if this would be an issue for you then please get in touch. There will be synchronous Q&A sessions following panels. Please submit abstracts of up to 500 words with a short bio (including your time zone) to the conference organisers Kim Simpson & Alison Daniell: adventurousc18wives@gmail.com by 1 March 2021.

For future updates follow @AdventurousWiv1 on Twitter.

Our new Mentors and Mentees announced!

We are pleased to announce our mentors and mentees for the 2020-21 academic session:

MentorsMentees
Rosemary HillChristine Walker
Brenda HosingtonAnnalisa Nicholson
Clare TaylorRita Dashwood
Gillian WilliamsonEva Lippold
2020-21 Mentor and Mentees

The scheme will run again in October 2021. If you would like to know more, please visit our Mentoring Scheme page.

The Women’s Studies Group (1558-1837) CALL FOR PAPERS 2020-2021 SEASON

The Women’s Studies Group (1558-1837) are please to announce our call for papers for the 2020-21 season is now live. Please consider presenting at one of the WSG seminars. Further details are below and on our website:

The WSG is open to men, women and non-binary people, students, faculty and independent scholars. We invite members old and new to offer papers formal and informal, as well as works-in-progress, on any topic related to early modern and long eighteenth-century women’s and gender studies, including (but not restricted to) history, literature, art, medicine, music, theatre, religion, economics, and sexuality.  Early career and independent scholars are particularly welcome. Since we usually have 3 or 4 papers in a session, papers should be restricted to a maximum of 20-25 minutes, to allow plenty of time for general discussion afterwards.

All meetings for the 2020-2021 season will start promptly at 1pm GMT (with arrivals from 12.30 onward to allow for necessary preparations and administration). We aim to finish by 3.30pm.

The dates are as follows:

Saturday 19 September 2020*

Saturday 5 December 2020

Saturday 23 January 2021

Saturday 20 March 2021

*Please note that the September meeting is British Summer Time, and the rest are GMT.

Our seminars usually take place at the Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N 1AZ. For the 2020-2021 season, however, the first two sessions, in September and December 2020, will be delivered on Zoom. Zoom will also be used for the last two sessions, in January and March 2021, though these may also be accompanied by meetings at the Foundling.

For more information about the society and its activities, including how to join, please see our website at https://womensstudiesgroup.org

Please reply by 17/7/2020 to Carolyn D. Williams at cdwilliamslyle@aol.com