WSG’s final seminar of the year focuses on “works in progress” papers, or with more of a “how to” element. These three by Valerie Schutte, Cheryl Duncan and Catriona Cooper look at life writing, the use of legal documents, and audio research.
Seminars take place at the Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, WC1N 1AZ, starting promptly at 1pm and finishing at 4pm. Doors open at 12.30. Directions for getting to the Museum can be found here. All seminars are free and open to the public, though refreshments will cost £2 to those who aren’t WSG members. Those attending the seminars are welcome to look round the museum before or after.
Sunday 11 March, 2018 (This is a ‘how-to’ session that also involves a measure of ‘work in progress’). Chair: TBC Valerie Schutte: Princess, Duchess, Queen: Mary Tudor as represented in the long eighteenth century. Cheryll Duncan: Music, women and the law: the challenges and rewards of legal documents. Catriona Cooper: Listening to the Commons: the sounds of debate and the experience of women in Parliament c.1800. Karen Lipsedge: Reading women and the eighteenth-century home.
Last year the first Women, Money and Markets 1750-1850 conference was held at King’s College London. Co-organised by WSG member Emma Newport and Amy Murat, the conference was a great success (not least because it featured a WSG panel, ‘Material Girls’).
The conference organisers welcome submissions in the form of individual papers, panels and roundtable discussions on the following themes:
The varying practices of women associated with currency, global and/or domestic markets and marketability
Material practices associated with value, exchange and/or female creativity
Women as producers and/or consumers in the literary or other marketplaces (including, but not limited to, food, clothing, agriculture and raw materials)
Representations of women at work or women’s involvement in: Trade and industry / Professional services (e.g. law, finance, hospitality and the media) / Domestic service / The rural economy / The stock market and speculation
The place of women in the literary marketplace (past and present)
They particularly welcome cross-cultural considerations of the above issues.
Guide for submissions: Please send 300 word abstracts to the conference email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) plus a covering email outlining briefly your proposed format (individual paper, panel, roundtable, etc.). If you are submitting a proposal for a panel, please include an abstract for each paper (up to 300 words each). Please indicate if you would like your paper to be considered for a monograph to be published in conjunction with the conference.
The date for our next annual workshop has been fixed for Sunday 13th May 2018 at the Foundling Museum, London, and the theme will broadly reflect the keynote’s of music, crafts and the home. WSG & music is a good fit with the Foundling – did you know that Handel conducted benefit performances of his famous Messiah to raise funds for the Foundling Hospital, and that the museum is home to an important Handel archive and regularly holds musical events? Registrations for the workshop will open in the spring, and participants are usually expected to bring a 5-minute contribution to present in the afternoon. Places will first be advertised to the wsg members mailing list – to find out before everyone else, why not become a member?
Sampled Lives: Samplers from the Fitzwilliam Museum Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RB Free entry, until Sunday 8th April, 2018.
Accompanying catalogue: Carol Humphrey, Sampled Lives: Samplers from the Fitzwilliam Museum. Accomplishment, Identity, Education and Employment (Cambridge: The Fitzwilliam Museum, 2017). Pp 242, illustrated. £19.99 (paperback), ISBN 9781910731079.
Curated by the Honorary Keeper of Textiles, Carol Humphrey, this is a fascinating small exhibition of 123 samplers from the Fitzwilliam Museum’s collection which are not usually on general display. Dating from the early 17thto the 20thcentury they are attractive in their own right as material objects and a testament to the expertise and artistry of their often very young (under ten years old in some cases) female makers. Most of those makers are anonymous, destined perhaps to be known only by the initials or name they stitched into their pieces. In a few cases, especially where that name is unusual, a short life has been reconstructed from the archive, though even here the sampler is pretty much the only surviving evidence of a female life. What the exhibition does very successfully is take this evidence and use it in a fresh way: as the equivalent of a life-writing text to illuminate the under-recorded lives of girls and women. This is therefore a very helpful extension of sources not just for scholars of textiles but for all members of the Women’s Studies Group who research women’s lives.
The samplers have been arranged not only chronologically but also in groups that illustrate the themes of accomplishment, identity, education and employment which are more fully explored in the sumptuous fully-illustrated catalogue. Most of the makers are, as far as can be discovered, of gentry or middling-sort families. Their work is a testament to the embroidery skills that were a key element in a female identity, used to make and embellish clothing and household linens. Some of the later examples are interpreted, however, as portable CVs demonstrating a working woman’s employable skill with the needle. Similarities between samplers are pointed out and traced not only to printed pattern books and popular texts but also to female networks such as the pupils of teachers Judith Hayle and her daughter Rebecca Thomson of Ipswich (fl. 1691-1711), late-17th- and 18th-century Quaker circles, and the charity school of St Clement Dane’s in central London.
The technically elaborate earlier 17th-centry spot motif samplers gradually gave way to the simpler (in stitching terms) pictorial samplers with alphabet and text often intended to be framed and hung on the wall of the family home, maybe as a dutiful gift to parents. The former had included clues to a girl’s or her family’s political alignments (heraldic and royalist symbols for example), whereas the latter can be thought of as extending this to a more personal interpretation of a girl’s emerging female identity and sense of self. For example, nine-year-old Sophia Ellis’ 1785 sampler (see illustration) incorporates standard motifs (as the ‘Solomon’s Porch’ in the centre, Adam and Eve in the band below, and the urns of flowers and geometrical trees) alongside symbols of loyalty at a time of war in America (the two grenadiers and the crowned lions). She has demonstrated her ability to both read and write, now expected in gentry and middling-sort females, with her top bands of upper- and lower-case alphabets and a moral motto which is again typical in framing a female sense of piety and quiet obedience. However, in the bottom band has allowed her imagination to run riot with a charming series of more frisky pastoral images.