WSG summer break

The Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837 is now taking its summer break.  It will resume in September when you should check back here for news of its seminars, upcoming book, and the annual bursary.

And it you’d like to become a member, right now is the best time – membership runs from September to September each year. The WSG is a supportive international community of scholars interested in women’s and gender studies in the early modern period and long eighteenth century.  As a member, you’ll be added to our listserv, hear about the seminars first, be able to apply to our bursary, get discounts on the annual workshop and the opportunity to go on our summer trip.

Annual subscription fees for those in the U.K. are £18.00 (waged) and £15.00 (student and unwaged), and for those overseas, £15.00 (waged) and £12.00 (student and unwaged).  Forms can be returned to WSG’s Treasurer by email or by post, or in person at WSG seminars and the workshop. See you in September!

Elaine Hobby in conversation with Sara Read

Elaine Hobby, Virtue of Necessity (Virago, 1988)

One of the aims of the WSG’s Commonplace Book, was to conduct interviews with some prominent academics who have been closely involved with WSG over the years. Late last year WSG member Sara Read sat down with Elaine Hobby, Professor of Seventeenth-Century Studies at Loughborough University, and this half hour audio is the result.

 

As some readers might know Elaine is a long-time associate of WSG who has encouraged her PhD students to join the group and give research papers at their seminars, and who recently gave a keynote on Aphra Behn at WSG’s 2015 workshop.  She is a renowned scholar of seventeenth-century women’s writing, especially autobiographical and lesbian writing, as well as midwifery manuals, whose books include Virtue of Necessity: English Women’s Writing 1649-88 (1988) and an edition of Jane Sharp’s 1671 Midwives Book or the Whole Art of Midwifry Discovered (1999).

She is currently leading a major project to produce an edition of Aphra Behn’s works. Sara spoke with Elaine about her research interests, her experiences of an “embryonic” WSG, her early influences and her latest project.  The conversation helps illustrate just how small a circle of people the feminist study of early modern women involved in the UK in 1987, and the changes that have transformed the field since.

Become a member of the Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837

Membership of the Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837 is available to anyone and runs from September to September of each year.  If you are a scholar of the early modern period and long eighteenth century, and interested in women’s history, writing, art, or music, and gender and labour, politics, economics, natural philosophy or material culture, amongst other topics, why not join?

Members can attend WSG’s annual seminar series (the next is in November), and pay a reduced price for its annual workshop, both of which take place at the Foundling Museum.  They also enjoy benefits such as WSG’s invitation-only listserv, promotion of their scholarly activities on this website and our facebook and twitter accounts, and the chance to join WSG’s annual outing, which last year was to the Globe archives. The WSG is in the process of compiling a 30th anniversary celebratory anthology and has recently offered a £500 research bursary to its members too. WSG members have given public talks at the Foundling.

Annual subscription fees for those in the U.K. are £18.00 (waged) and £15.00 (student and unwaged), and for those overseas, £15.00 (waged) and £12.00 (student and unwaged).  For further information, see here.  Forms can be returned to WSG’s Treasurer by email or by post, or in person at WSG seminars and the workshop.

WSG 30th Anniversary Commonplace Book

As regular readers of this blog will know, the WSG is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017 (the date is a little bit hazy – it was so long ago! – but it is generally agreed that our panel at BSECS 1987 was our first meaningful action). As part of the celebrations, WSG has not only instituted a bursary, but is in the process of compiling and editing a volume intended to be a reflection of its members’ 30 years of research and activism.  Edited by Carolyn Williams, Sara Read and Louise Duckling and with a working title of the Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837 Commonplace Book, it will comprise a mixture of short research articles, reminiscences, interviews and poems by members past and present.  Those interested in the upcoming book can get a taste of it by listening to Elaine Hobby, Professor of Seventeenth-Century Studies at Loughborough University and a long-time associate of WSG, in conversation with Sara Read in a separate blog post later this month.

Commonplacing was a common knowledge-making practice during the early modern period whereby people would write short extracts or digests from their reading into books under topical headings.  These could be poetry, prose, quotations, proverbs, letters and prayers, which the compiler could then reference and recombine.  Books could be kept for pragmatic as well as recreational reasons.  Men such as Francis Bacon and John Locke famously wrote about and kept commonplace books, but women kept them too, and in recent years much work has been done on a closely related genre, the recipe book, to which the whole household might contribute.  Some thought the practice of commonplacing a cause for concern, because it would encourage superficial reading.

The commonplace book as a discursive practice arguably reached its peak during the early modern period but commonplacing is by its very nature also highly personal and has continued in various forms into the Romantic period and the present day.  WSG’s Commonplace Book will be a printed rather than manuscript form, but it will reflect the collaborative, interdisciplinary, unruly, highly mobile forms of interaction and support WSG has encouraged over the years. We hope to see it published in 2018.

WSG seminar series 2016-2017

The Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837 is pleased to announce the speakers for their seminar series 2016-17.  Please note the change of dates this year to the third Saturday of each month, and we have also added a fourth date in March for the presentation of “works in progress”.  All seminars will take place at the Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, WC1N 1AZ, starting promptly at 1pm and finishing at 4pm.  Doors open at 12.30.  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 afterwards.

Saturday 17th September, 2016. Chair: TBC
Brianna Elyse Robertson-Kirkland: Venanzio Rauzzini (1746 – 1810) and his female operatic students.
Judith Page: Austen and Shakespeare: Mansfield Park, Shylock, and the ‘exquisite acting’ of Edmund Kean.
Lucy Gent: What is becoming in Mansfield Park? Jane Austen and Cicero’s De Officiis.

Saturday 19th November, 2016. Chair: TBC
Valerie Schutte: Celebrating the 500th Birthday of Queen Mary I in Manuscript Images.
Emma Newport: Interplay and Interpretation: Lady Banks’s “Dairy Book” and the collection and collation of Chinese Porcelain.
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 21st January, 2017. Chair: Lois Chaber
Charlotte Young: “Our Wives you find at Goldsmiths Hall”: Women and sequestration during the English Civil War.
Helen Draper: Mary Beale and the Performance of Friendship.
Mascha Hansen: Beyond Marriage: Envisioning the Future in Women’s Writings, 1660-1830.

Saturday 18th March, 2017 (works in progress). Chair: TBC
Madeleine Pelling:That Noble Possessor”: The Pursuit of Virtuous Knowledge and its Materials in the Collection of Margaret Cavendish Bentinck, Duchess of Portland (1715-1785).
Erica Buurman: Almack’s ballroom and the introduction of European dances.
Angela Escott: Hannah Cowley’s “dramatic talents” employed in her epic poem of the Napoleonic Wars, The Siege of Acre (1801).

For further information, see our seminars page, or contact the organiser Carolyn D. Williams.  To join the WSG, see our membership page.