Gillian Williamson: British Masculinity in the Gentleman’s Magazine

Gillian Williamson, front cover of British Masculinities (Palgrave, 2015)
Gillian Williamson, front cover of British Masculinities (Palgrave, 2015)

This is a great post with which to kick off 2016, for all readers who believe the history of early modern and 18thC women should be considered (and practised) as part of a broader history of sex and gender.  WSG member Gillian Williamson has published her study British Masculinity in the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’, 1731-1815 with Palgrave Macmillan (£63 hardback).  Gillian is an independent historian.  She read classics at the University of Cambridge then worked in corporate finance. She returned to academic study after editing a lottery-funded local history book.

Launched in 1731, the monthly Gentleman’s Magazine was the dominant periodical of the 18thC, drawing its large readership from across the literate population of Great Britain and the English-speaking world. Its readers were highly responsive. By the 1740s their letters, poems and family announcements, especially obituaries, filled at least half its pages, sitting alongside articles by a circle that included Samuel Johnson. It was a Georgian social network as readers engaged in a continuous dialogue with each other, but not all these readers were as comfortably established as gentlemen as the title implied.

Gillian’s study traces how, from launch to the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, the magazine developed as a vehicle for the creation and national dissemination of a new middling-sort masculine gentlemanliness in a Britain that was increasingly commercial, fluid and open. You can read a sample chapter here.

WSG seminars 2015-2016 announced

Anonymous, trade card, paper, c1760, collected by Sarah Sophia Banks.  BM D,2.3603.
Anonymous, trade card, paper, c1760, collected by Sarah Sophia Banks. British Museum D,2.3603. © The Trustees of the British Museum

The Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837 is pleased to announce its seminar schedule for the forthcoming academic year.  Seminars will take place at the Foundling Museum, London, WC1N 1AZ, and start promptly at 1pm, finishing at about 4.  Tea and biscuits are provided.  Why not arrive early and see the Foundling’s current exhibition, or hear a gallery talk?

This year seminars organiser Dr Carolyn Williams has drawn together papers with musical themes, as well as on collecting, natural philosophy, literature, politics, and book history from across WSG’s 16th- to early 19th-century range.  Dates and speakers are as follows:

Saturday 26th  September, 2015, 1-4pm, Foundling Museum
Diana Ambache, ‘Women composers of the late 18th century’
Professor Paula Higgins, ‘Suppressing the Suppression of Fanny Hensel: Textual Ellipsis and Other Signs of Biographical Censorship’
Dr Arlene Leis, ‘Sarah Sophia Banks as a Collector’

NB Diana Ambache will have CDs of the composers profiled on sale, from £6 to £14.

Saturday 28th November, 2015, 1-4pm, Foundling Museum
Associate Professor Tita Chico, ‘Knowledge Seduction’
Dr Andrew McInnes, ‘Resistant Readers in Sarah Fielding’s The Governess’
Chrisy Dennis, ‘“We were born to grace society: but not to be its slaves”: Chivalry and Revolution in Mary Robinson’s Hubert de Sevrac, A Romance of the Eighteenth Century (1796)’

Saturday January 30, 2016, 1-4pm, Foundling Museum
Valerie Schutte, ‘Pre-accession Printed Book Dedications to Mary and Elizabeth Tudor’ (see a publication of Valerie’s here)
Brianna Elyse Robertson-Kirkland, ‘Venanzio Rauzzini (1746 – 1810) and his female operatic students’
Sarah Oliver, ‘From Rape to Desire: Mary Hays’s Revision of the Love Theme and Jane Austen’s “New” Heroines’ (see a publication of Sarah’s here)

For more information, and brief abstracts of the papers, see our current seminars page, like WSG’s facebook page, or follow @WSGUK.