WSG Seminar Reminder

Saturday December 3, 2022 at The Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1PH(12:30 for 13:00 GMT)

Julia Gruman Martins: Between Manuscript and Print: Alchemical Recipes from Isabella d’Este to Isabella Cortese.

Eleanor Franzén: Selling Sex, Selling Stories: the Magdalen House Texts, 1758-1777.

Janette Bright: ‘A careful, motherly woman’ or ‘Prime Minister of the House’: assessing the status of Matrons at the London Foundling Hospital (1740-1820).

This is an in-person meeting. The seminars are free and open to the public although non-members will be asked to make a donation of £2 for refreshments, which will include seasonal mince pies.

Those attending the seminars are welcome to look round the museum before or after the seminar. We will be allowed into the room at 12.30, Greenwich Mean Time, to give us time to sort out paperwork and technology, but sessions will run from 13.00 – 15.30. Please arrive between 12:30 and 13:00. There is a break for tea, coffee and biscuits halfway through the session.

The Foundling is a wheelchair accessible venue, and directions for getting to the Museum can be found here, including for those who are partially sighted.

If you have any queries please contact the Chair, Miriam Al Jamil, by email at wsgworkshop@gmail.com

We look forward to welcoming you.

Reminder of WSG Seminar tomorrow & Notice of a School of Advanced Study (SAS) lecture on Wednesday 16 November.

WSG seminar tomorrow 12 November 2022

This is an in-person meeting to be held at The Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AZ. We will be allowed into the room at 12.30, Greenwich Mean Time, to give us time to sort out paperwork and technology, but sessions will run from 13.00 – 15.30. Please arrive between 12:30 and 13:00. There is a break for tea, coffee and biscuits halfway through the session.

We would like to remind you that the Lord Mayors Show, also on Saturday 12 November, may affect roads and transport from 07:00 to approximately 16:00. The link below provided more detailed information and a link to the London transport planner, which will advise of closures.

https://lordmayorsshow.london/closures

The Foundling is a wheelchair accessible venue, and directions for getting to the Museum can be found here, including for those who are partially sighted. Seminars are free and open to the public though non-members will be asked to make a donation of £2 for refreshments. Those attending the seminars are welcome to look round the museum before or after. If you say you are there for the WSG seminar you will not need to pay for admittance to the museum.

WSG Seminar papers for Saturday 12 November.

Tia Caswell: “La Reine en Chemise”: The Deployment of Female Agency and the Construction of Marie-Antoinette’s Public Image as the Natural Woman.

Clémentine Garcenot: The impact of the French Revolution on aristocratic family life.

Carolyn D. Williams: Problems with Reading Plays: Degradations and Redemptions of Hermione in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

Please scroll down for abstracts.

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

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SAS Free ‘Hybrid’ Seminar on Wednesday 16 November 2022, 17:30 – 19:30 GMT.  ‘The point of the name’: Frances Burney, Elizabeth Montagu and surname change by Royal Licence in late eighteenth-century Britain.

Speaker: Dr Sophie Coulombeau (University of York)

This lecture is free but advance booking is essential via this link: 

https://sas.sym-online.com/registrationforms/ihrbooking_long_18th_century46900/done/

This seminar is part of the SAS (School of Advanced Study) Series on British History in the Long 18th Century.

It is Hybrid: Online- via Zoom & Bloomsbury Room, G35, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

There will be a limited number of places available in person and a larger number of bookings for online attendance via Zoom. Those attending in person are asked to bring a Wi-Fi enabled laptop, tablet or phone. The session will start at the later time of 17:30 GMT.  

Whilst not organised by WSG we thought this lecture may be of interest to members.  Please see after the WSG abstracts for Sophie’s abstract.

WSG Seminar Abstracts for Saturday 12 November 2022

Tia Caswell: “La Reine en Chemise”: The Deployment of Female Agency and the Construction of Marie-Antoinette’s Public Image as the Natural Woman.

The aim of this paper is to examine the construction of Marie-Antoinette’s public image as the “Natural Woman” through the lens of the infamous portrait “la Chemise de la Reine” by Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun, exhibited in 1783 at the Paris Salon. 

I would like to begin with an explanation of how I intend to use the terms “image” and “identity” in the sphere of my research. I argue that images suggest though they do not define identity. Physical images (paintings, portraits, propaganda) are projected to the public and play an integral part in identity construction. We begin with the image: the image is central to the construction of the overarching “public image” and of the external identity; it is the first thing that the public receives and reacts to. It is through the circulation of images (in multitude) that we see the potential that the image as a media source has to shape and navigate the public reception of a monarchical figure. “Image” and “public image” have certain nuances of meaning; I use the term “image” to refer to the stand-alone physical picture that is projected to the audience, whereas I use the term “public image” to refer to the ambiguously expressed attitudes and opinions that the physical pictures evoke.

Clémentine Garcenot: The impact of the French Revolution on aristocratic family life.

This paper will explore the impact of the French Revolution on the aristocratic family through a literary analysis of the marquise de la Rochejaquelein’s Memoirs (1885). Scholars such as M. Darrow or S. Desan have perceived the Revolution as a watershed responsible for the metamorphosis of family life, progressing from an Ancien Régime model characterised by coldness and ambition to a republican one consisting in loving spouses and parents. The Memoirs are a hitherto ignored yet fascinating source covering the period before and during the Revolution. Through them, I observe the progression of sentiment in aristocratic family life, focusing specifically on women. Rochejaquelein describes her upbringing by loving parents and gives an account of her love-match before tackling the challenges posed by the Revolution to these relationships. Thus, I will demonstrate that the shift from one model to another was gradual rather than radical.

Building on Darrow’s and Desan’s works, I will consider the circumstantial difficulties which complicated women’s roles as wives and mothers. In order to avoid imprisonment and death during the Revolution and subsequent Vendean war, aristocratic women were constantly uprooting their homes and upsetting their family life. Faced with the loss of household staff, they paradoxically enjoyed domestic bliss, becoming closer to their husband and taking care of raising their children by themselves for the first time. However, the circumstances also provoked miscarriages or led them to become widows. Therein lies the tension in this domestic transformation. I will argue that the latter was appreciated but also a source of grief.

Carolyn D. Williams: Problems with Reading Plays: Degradations and Redemptions of Hermione in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

This session is devoted to papers on aristocratic and royal women who are devoted to their families, lead exemplary private lives, and yet are subject to scandal and are tried and condemned for crimes of which they are innocent. I have chosen a fictitious example, Hermione, the Queen Consort of Sicilia, in Shakespeare’s Jacobean tragicomedy, The Winter’s Tale.  He would have thought of it as a tragicomedy because it has a happy ending overall, which makes it a comedy, but two characters who appear on stage die in the course of the action: Mamilius, Hermione’s young son, and Antigonus, the husband of Paulina, a court lady who is Hermione’s trusty friend.  I interested in the ways in which misreadings of the play can lead people who are inexperienced in reading drama to misunderstand Hermione: consequently it begins as a how-to paper, considering some general techniques that can help people get the most out of play texts in general. Finally, I would like to open up a creative pathway for further explorations of the themes and situations under discussion. 

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Abstract for SAS Free ‘Hybrid’ Seminar on Wednesday 16 November 2022, 17:30 – 19:30 GMT.  ‘The point of the name’: Frances Burney, Elizabeth Montagu and surname change by Royal Licence in late eighteenth-century Britain. Speaker: Dr Sophie Coulombeau (University of York)

This paper presents original research about the late eighteenth-century fashion for requesting a change of surname by Royal Licence. Drawing on archival research carried out in the College of Arms, I argue that the sharp statistical rise in this expensive and technically unnecessary phenomenon during the later eighteenth century indicates a remarkable degree of anxiety among elite social groups about the hereditary name’s efficacy as an arbiter of cultural belonging. My findings suggest important modifications to the scant work available on the gender, class and motivations of applicants for Royal Licences during this period.
I then turn to literary and biographical methodologies to draw out the implications of this fashion for contemporary understandings of personal identity. My key text is Frances Burney’s 1782 novel Cecilia: or, Memoirs of an Heiress, in which the plot is predicated upon exactly such a change of name, obliged by testamentary injunction. Burney admitted that her whole ‘End’ in writing the novel was to ‘point out the absurdity & short-sightedness of those Name-Compelling Wills’, and her novel ignited remarkable debate and dissension among its polite metropolitan readership – many of whom had changed their own or a relative’s surname by Royal Licence. Indeed, I suggest that Burney had a particular case in mind: Elizabeth Montagu, the ‘Queen of the Blues’, whose nephew Matthew Robinson took her surname in 1776 and who exemplified, in Burney’s eyes, a cultural prerogative to ‘bind posterity’. Uniting historical, biographical and literary approaches to the ‘Name-Compelling Will’, I suggest, can help us to re-think how the surname acts as a nexus for anxieties about gender, kinship, and posterity.

Posted by Trudie Messent on 11 November 2022

Reminder: WSG Seminar on Saturday 12 November 2022 at The Foundling Museum (12:30 for 13:00 GMT)

This is an in-person meeting. We will be allowed into the room at 12.30, Greenwich Mean Time, to give us time to sort out paperwork and technology, but sessions will run from 13.00 – 15.30. Please arrive between 12:30 and 13:00. There is a break for tea, coffee and biscuits halfway through the session.

The Foundling is a wheelchair accessible venue, and directions for getting to the Museum can be found here, including for those who are partially sighted. Seminars are free and open to the public though non-members will be asked to make a donation of £2 for refreshments. Those attending the seminars are welcome to look round the museum before or after.

Chair: Miriam Al Jamil

Three paper titles and abstracts

Tia Caswell: “La Reine en Chemise”: The Deployment of Female Agency and the Construction of Marie-Antoinette’s Public Image as the Natural Woman.

The aim of this paper is to examine the construction of Marie-Antoinette’s public image as the “Natural Woman” through the lens of the infamous portrait “la Chemise de la Reine” by Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun, exhibited in 1783 at the Paris Salon. 

I would like to begin with an explanation of how I intend to use the terms “image” and “identity” in the sphere of my research. I argue that images suggest though they do not define identity. Physical images (paintings, portraits, propaganda) are projected to the public and play an integral part in identity construction. We begin with the image: the image is central to the construction of the overarching “public image” and of the external identity; it is the first thing that the public receives and reacts to. It is through the circulation of images (in multitude) that we see the potential that the image as a media source has to shape and navigate the public reception of a monarchical figure. “Image” and “public image” have certain nuances of meaning; I use the term “image” to refer to the stand-alone physical picture that is projected to the audience, whereas I use the term “public image” to refer to the ambiguously expressed attitudes and opinions that the physical pictures evoke.

Clémentine Garcenot: The impact of the French Revolution on aristocratic family life.

This paper will explore the impact of the French Revolution on the aristocratic family through a literary analysis of the marquise de la Rochejaquelein’s Memoirs (1885). Scholars such as M. Darrow or S. Desan have perceived the Revolution as a watershed responsible for the metamorphosis of family life, progressing from an Ancien Régime model characterised by coldness and ambition to a republican one consisting in loving spouses and parents. The Memoirs are a hitherto ignored yet fascinating source covering the period before and during the Revolution. Through them, I observe the progression of sentiment in aristocratic family life, focusing specifically on women. Rochejaquelein describes her upbringing by loving parents and gives an account of her love-match before tackling the challenges posed by the Revolution to these relationships. Thus, I will demonstrate that the shift from one model to another was gradual rather than radical.

Building on Darrow’s and Desan’s works, I will consider the circumstantial difficulties which complicated women’s roles as wives and mothers. In order to avoid imprisonment and death during the Revolution and subsequent Vendean war, aristocratic women were constantly uprooting their homes and upsetting their family life. Faced with the loss of household staff, they paradoxically enjoyed domestic bliss, becoming closer to their husband and taking care of raising their children by themselves for the first time. However, the circumstances also provoked miscarriages or led them to become widows. Therein lies the tension in this domestic transformation. I will argue that the latter was appreciated but also a source of grief.

Carolyn D. Williams: Problems with Reading Plays: Degradations and Redemptions of Hermione in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

This session is devoted to papers on aristocratic and royal women who are devoted to their families, lead exemplary private lives, and yet are subject to scandal and are tried and condemned for crimes of which they are innocent. I have chosen a fictitious example, Hermione, the Queen Consort of Sicilia, in Shakespeare’s Jacobean tragicomedy, The Winter’s Tale.  He would have thought of it as a tragicomedy because it has a happy ending overall, which makes it a comedy, but two characters who appear on stage die in the course of the action: Mamilius, Hermione’s young son, and Antigonus, the husband of Paulina, a court lady who is Hermione’s trusty friend.  I interested in the ways in which misreadings of the play can lead people who are inexperienced in reading drama to misunderstand Hermione: consequently it begins as a how-to paper, considering some general techniques that can help people get the most out of play texts in general. Finally, I would like to open up a creative pathway for further explorations of the themes and situations under discussion. 

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

Reminder: WSG Seminar on Thursday 13 October 2022 via Zoom

Waiting room opens 17.45 for 18:00 – 19:30 (British Summer Time) Chair: Sara Read Zoom host: Trudie Messent

The first seminar of the 2022 – 2023 season takes place on Thursday 13 October 2022. Please note the earlier seminar time of 18:00 – 19:30.

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 2022-2023 season.

13 October Seminar papers

Yvonne Noble: Anne Finch’s Mrs Randolph.

In contract to the editors of the new Anne Finch edition, I identify her friend and fellow poet, Mrs. Randolph, as Mary Castillion Randolph, first wife of the Recorder of Canterbury. This paper surveys the poems we can identify as hers and demonstrates her place at the center of an open and admired poetic circle in a period – – the 1690s– when most women poets, like Anne Finch, tried to shield their identities in anonymity or with pastoral names. Four poems have been known by Mrs. Randolph; here I identify a fifth. Abstract by Yvonne Noble

Valeria Viola: Eighteenth-century Global Domesticity. Don Luigi and Donna Caterina Riggio, Princes of Campofiorito.

In the eighteenth century, the most disparate goods were both the reason and the outcome of a vast cross-cultural network, and people moving these goods from one place to another were the agents that enabled this network. As a diplomat of the Spanish crown, Don Luigi Riggio et Branciforte (1677 -1757), prince of Campofiorito, travelled through Europe for 35 years with his wife, Donna Caterina Gravina et Gravina (1676-1747). On their travels, the princes of Campofiorito brought with them a vast collection of assorted furnishings, expanding it with new acquisitions. In so doing, this material culture constructed their international trait and stressed their alignment with both the eclectic taste introduced by the Bourbon King of Spain and the politics underlying this taste.

The contribution focuses on the coordinated work of the two, in the cities where they lived as Spanish ambassadors, namely Venice (1737-1740), Paris (1740-1746) and Naples (1746-1750). The paper explores how the practices and behaviours of the ambassadors affected the permeability of their domestic boundaries and the creation of the social network necessary for their role. In detail, it explores the elusive figure of Donna Caterina through her will, her only surviving letter, and some memories of people who met the couple. Abstract by Valeria Viola

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

Post by Trudie Messent

Reminder: WSG seminar March 2022

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

This seminar will take place at The Foundling Museum. The Foundling Museum is situated at 40 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N 1AZ and sessions start promptly at 1pm and finishing at 4pm. Doors open at 12.30pm, and there is a break for tea, coffee and biscuits halfway through the session. The Foundling is a wheelchair accessible venue, and directions for getting to the Museum can be found here, including for those who are partially sighted. Seminars are free and open to the public though non-members will be asked to make a donation of £2 for refreshments. Those attending the seminars are welcome to look round the museum before or after.

Speakers:

Sophie Johnson

History’s ‘other’ sculptors: The under-representation of historic women sculptors (1558 – 1837) in the history of art

Since Linda Nochlin’s seminal essay Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? (1971), research has been increasingly published on women artists. However, the focus of this work has primarily been on painters, or artists from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. One group who are still largely absent from art historical research are historic women sculptors. In particular, we see very little research into women sculptors from before the mid-19th century, the point at which women were formally admitted into art academies. It appears that these women are almost as absent in modern scholarship as they were in the artists’ dictionaries of their day. Not only is there a lack of research on these women compared to their painter or contemporary sisters, but we also see very few examples of their work in UK public art collections. An invisibility not simply resulting from a lack of women practicing sculpture historically, but a continued hierarchy in the perceived quality of sculptural materials. A preference for marble and bronze inadvertently prejudices historic women sculptors working in wax and organic materials; the more popular materials for them to work in. Furthermore, the view that the physicality of sculpture would have been prohibitive for women has not yet disappeared from the academic or indeed public consciousness.

This paper will briefly highlight the women sculptors who existed from 1558 – 1837 and the structural constraints which prevented many from achieving recognition. Moreover, the biases in art-historical research and museum practice which continue to obscure their visibility today. Arguing that we must go further than simply uncovering historic women sculptors but challenge outdated standards of ‘quality’ and an exclusionary art-historical canon. Demonstrating how the under-representation of historic women sculptors is a crucial part of today’s wider discussion around diversifying our collections and research for a contemporary audience.

Charlotte Goodge

‘Sedentary occupations ought chiefly to be followed by women’: The ‘Fat’ Woman and ‘Masculine’ Exercise in the Literary Culture of the ‘long’ Eighteenth Century.

This paper will explore how the ‘exercise’ recommended for genteel women in the ‘long’ eighteenth century was orientated around the concept of ‘delicacy’ (as promoted by Samuel Johnson in an anecdote recorded in Hester Piozzi’s Thralina and discussed frequently as a topic in conduct literature of the period). These ‘exercises’ were not exercises in the way we think of fitness today. Indeed, the exercises deemed appropriately feminine often did not involve physical activity at all (one such exercise being a carriage ride), and when they did, they were notably gentle – a promenade about the room or garden.

Thus, it seems unsurprising that when the genteel woman did physically exert herself, it was understood to undermine the expectation of delicacy (as touched upon in the scholarly works of Donna Landry and Kerri Andrews). Her participation in certain sports, such as horse riding (especially as a member of the hunt) or rambling, was seen as much too over-active for her sex, and, consequently, ‘masculine’. In literary culture especially, there are notable instances of ‘fat’ women participating in these unfemininely, over-active pursuits. Charlotte Lennox’s ‘Miss Groves’ in The Female Quixote (1752) and Thomas Love Peacock’s ‘Susannah Touchandgo’ in Castle Crotchet (1831) demonstrate this.

Although the image of the ‘fat’ woman exhibiting her sporting prowess may seem incongruous, this paper examines how the ‘fatness’ of these literary protagonists was used to draw attention to what the ‘fat’ woman’s overexertion could enable, rather than the indelicacy of the act of overexertion itself. Indeed, as I intend to argue in this paper, ‘fatness’ in these literary instances signified a distinct autonomy. By being pointedly mobile and unprohibited in her movements, the overly active ‘fat’ woman suggested an ability to challenge sexual propriety (by displaying her body on her terms) and confused others’ perception of her social rank, translating an indelicate physical mobility into a disruptive social mobility.

Moira Goff

Evered Laguerre: a Female Professional Dancer on the London Stage

Evered Laguerre (1702-1739) has a good claim to be the leading female dancer in the company at the Lincoln’s Inn Fields and then Covent Garden Theatres during the 1720s and 1730s, although her name is rarely to be found in the writings of modern dance historians. In this paper, I will evaluate that claim as I survey her dance repertoire and look at her status within the company in different seasons. Mrs Laguerre was also an actress, but I will not deal with this aspect of her stage work except in passing. I will try to place her in context alongside the other dancers, particularly the female dancers, who appeared on the early 18th-century London stage. Mrs Laguerre’s career is linked to that of the French professional dancer Marie Sallé, who danced at Lincoln’s Inn Fields and Covent Garden during several seasons over the same period. Mlle Sallé’s career has received much attention from dance writers and historians, who tend to overlook her contemporaries in London. In my paper, I will explore how and where Evered Laguerre’s repertoire intersects with that of Marie Sallé and what this might tell us about the dancing of both women as well as dancing on the London stage more generally.

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