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Conference Report: Women & the Arts in the Long Eighteenth Century

Women & the Arts in the Long Eighteenth Century

Friday 8 March 2019, University of Sheffield

By Hannah Moss, PhD Researcher in the School of English

Scheduled to coincide with International Women’s Day, Women & the Arts in the Long Eighteenth Century took place on Friday 8 March at the University of Sheffield’s Humanities Research Institute. I organised this one-day conference, kindly sponsored by BARS, to reappraise the role women played in the arts during the period. As a PhD candidate specialising in the representation of women’s art in the Romantic-era novel, my aim was to bring together fellow researchers working on connected topics in the hope of fostering interdisciplinary thought.

With 2019 marking the 250thanniversary of the inaugural Royal Academy exhibition, I felt that it was both important and timely for an event to bring female creativity in the period to the forefront of discussion. Women & the Arts brought together those specialising in Art History, Literature, Theatre, and Music to share their research, with the event particularly targeted at those working on the intersection between literature and the arts in order to explore the ways in which writers represent artistic endeavour. The international reach of the call for papers saw delegates travelling to Sheffield from as far afield as France and Canada, with the conference hosting 14 speakers across 4 panels, plus a keynote address from Dr Claudine Van Hensbergen (Northumbria University).

Postgraduate researchers, early career scholars, lecturers and curators all came together to share their research on a diverse range of topics including colour theory, country house collections, collage and copies. I opened the first panel on Characterising the Female Artist with a paper arguing for creativity in the copy, using the artist heroines in Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian (1797) and Mary Shelley’s The Last Man (1826) to show how Radcliffe and Shelley raise the status of the copy in a way that self-reflexively promotes the woman writer. Kim Rondeau (Concordia University) followed with a fascinating insight into her research on Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun as a politically and ideologically undesirable subject for feminist Art History, noting how Simone de Beauvoir criticised her insipid ‘smiling maternity’. Next, Rosie Razzall (Royal Collection Trust) presented on the sacred tokens found pasted to numerous examples of Rosalba Carriera’s pastels, commenting upon how this performative practice contributes to her self-image. Miriam Al Jamil (Birkbeck) rounded-off the panel by discussing Eleanor Coade’s commercial success producing artificial stone, and examining the trade cards in which she characterises herself as an emblematic neo-classical figure, ‘Fiery Force’.

A break for coffee and a selection of vegan and gluten free cakes allowed us to refuel ahead of the next round of presentations. With two parallel panels to choose from, Poetry, Performance & Patronage opened with Eva Lippold (Independent Researcher) discussing the representation of intellectual women on stage, with particular reference to Frances Burney’s The Witlings (1779)Jemima Hubberstey (University of Oxford/English Heritage) followed with her paper exploring the critical voices of Jemima Marchioness Grey and Catherine Talbot in the Wrest coterie, noting how both women had a keen critical eye for literature as well as an avid love for reading, before Léa Renucci (EHESS-University of Verona) spoke on poetry and sociability in relation to the pastorelle of the Accademia degli Arcadi in the Eighteenth Century.

The parallel panel on Women Patrons & Collectors saw Amy Lim (University of Oxford/Tate) question the concept of gendered spheres through her case study of the art patronage of Elizabeth Seymour, Duchess of Somerset. Lizzie Rogers (University of Hull) maintained our focus on the Seymour family, following with a paper on the social and creative worlds of Frances Seymour, Countess of Hertford, and Elizabeth Seymour Percy, First Duchess of Northumberland, noting Elizabeth’s enthusiasm for sharing her collection even though the likes of Horace Walpole mercilessly mocked her as a collector. Elizabeth Ford (IASH University of Edinburgh) presented on the influence of Susanna, Lady Eglinton – a 6ft tall beauty whose eyebrows, and flute-playing, inspired sonnets. This paper included a musical interlude so we could listen to extracts of the songs discussed.

After a break for lunch, and an opportunity to discuss the morning’s papers, we gathered together for our final panel of the day on Material Culture, Art & Society. Susan Bennett (William Shipley Group for RSA History) opened by promoting the Society of Arts as a valuable resource for researchers, charting the Society’s long association of supporting women artists, rewarding many examples of experimental artistic practice with prizes. Freya Gowrley (University of Edinburgh) gave us an insight into her fascinating project on collage before Modernism, covering issues of periodization and the divide between art and craft, whilst Serena Dyer (University of Hertfordshire) used Ann Frankland Lewis’ beautiful ‘Dress of the Year’ watercolours as a means of engaging with women’s material lives, noting the social, political, familial and emotional implications behind the choice of dresses depicted. Finally, Alexandra Loske (University of Sussex/Royal Pavilion) introduced us to Mary Gartside: flower painter, teacher, colour theorist (c.1860s-c.1808). Loske’s research has found that Gartside was probably the first woman to publish on colour theory, and as a special treat for attendees, she brought along her own copy Gartside’s Essay on Light and Shade(1805) so we could view her experimental colour blots at close hand.

A link between many of the papers highlighted during the time allocated for questions was the issue of women’s commercial involvement in the arts, and this was a theme which continued to be explored in our keynote address: ‘Female Wits and Muses: Professional Women and the Arts in the Eighteenth Century’. Claudine van Hensbergen (Northumbria University) challenged the problematic definition of the term ‘professional’ in relation to money rather than skill when we still live with a gender pay gap. One example cited was Mary Beale who is often credited as the first professional woman artist, but it was a move to a fashionable address rather than a notible improvement in skill which marked her transition.

Live Tweeting was encouraged throughout the day in order to engage with a wider audience who were not able to attend in person. In this spirit, Madeleine Pelling (University of York) submitted a wonderfully detailed poster presentation on the Duchess of Portland’s vase and was on hand to answer any questions online even thought she wasn’t able to join us in Sheffield. You can look back at what was being discussed on the day by reading the feed from @WomensArt2019 or by following the hashtag #WomensArt2019.

Positive feedback received on the day via comment cards and Twitter focused on the cultural relevance of the event, the range of papers presented, and the inclusive atmosphere – not to mention the conference cake printed with Adélaïde Labille-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils (1785, The Met: New York). Well, it wouldn’t have been a conference on eighteenth-century art without a portrait cake!

It just remains for me to say thank you to everyone who attended for making Women & the Arts such a friendly and intellectually stimulating environment, as well as to BARS whose generous funding not only helped with running costs, but meant that postgraduate travel bursaries could be offered. I hope that the conversations initiated during the course of the day will continue, and aim to publish a special edition from the conference proceedings to disseminate the research further. I envisage that this will be just the first event of this kind, and would very much like to run another Women & the Arts conference in the near future.

– Hannah Moss  (PhD Researcher at the University of Sheffield & organiser of Women & the Arts)

Read more about BARS conference funding here.

Stephen Copley Research Awards 2019: The Winners

The BARS Executive Committee has established these bursaries in order to support postgraduate and early-career research within the UK. They are intended to help fund expenses incurred through travel to libraries and archives necessary to the student’s research. As anticipated, this year we received a large number of applications, many of which were of a very high quality indeed. Please do join us in congratulating the very worthy winners. Romanticism is alive and kicking, we’re pleased to say!

  • Valentina P. Aparicio (University of Edinburgh)
  • Gabriella Barnard-Edmunds (University of York)
  • Stephen Basdeo (RIASA Leeds)
  • Eleanor Bryan (University of Lincoln)
  • Hiroki Iwamoto (University of Bristol)
  • Francesco Marchionni (Durham University)
  • Alice Rhodes (University of York)
  • Katie Snow (University of Exeter)
  • Jonathan Taylor (University of Surrey)

Once they have completed their research trips each winner will write a brief report on their projects. These will be published on the website and circulated through our social media. For more information about the bursaries, including reports from past winners, please visit our website.

Daniel Cook, Bursaries Officer, BARS. University of Dundee. d.p.cook@dundee.ac.uk

19 February 2019

Call for Papers: Narratives of Ageing in the Nineteenth Century

University of Lincoln, 23rd July 2019 – website here

Organisers: Dr Alice Crossley, Dr Amy Culley, and Dr Rebecca Styler

Plenary Speaker: Prof. Devoney Looser, Arizona State University

‘Ageing in Public: Women Authors in the Nineteenth Century’

This conference responds to the burgeoning critical interest of humanities scholars in age, ageing, and stages of life from childhood to old age in the nineteenth century.

The figure of the child and the imaginative investment in the idea of childhood are the focus of seminal studies of ageing in this period.

However, recent critical engagements have suggested the value of exploring ageing identities and cultural articulations of age across the life course, in dialogue with one another, and from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

In light of this development, this conference seeks to address the experiences, conceptions, and representations of the ageing process in the literature and culture of the nineteenth century.

W.P. Frith’s ‘Many Happy Returns’ (1856) ‘Harrogate Museums and Arts, Harrogate Borough Council’

We welcome papers from all humanities disciplines (including, but not restricted to, English, History, Art History, and Religious Studies) and covering a diverse range of media, forms, and genres, such as fiction, poetry, drama, life writing, conduct literature, children’s literature, religious writing, periodicals, portraiture, photography, satirical prints, material culture, medical literature, institutions and their discourses, longevity literature, advertising, elegy.

Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Relationships between stages of the life course: childhood, adolescence, maturity, midlife, old age, longevity, premature ageing, infantilization
  • Ageing and relationships: inter and intra-generational friendship, age heterogamy, familial roles (mothers, fathers, grandparents), sociability
  • Ageing and intersectionality (gender, class, sexuality, race, religion, nation)
  • Developments in critical gerontology, view of the field in relation to C19th studies
  • Ageing and authorship: juvenilia and ‘late style’, age and critical reception
  • Materiality of ageing: souvenirs, tokens, evocative objects
  • Ageing and the body: health, illness, puberty/menopause, sexuality
  • Ageism, gerontophobia, ageing as decline and counter-cultural narratives
  • Ageing as cultural performance, age-consciousness and (dis)identification
  • Nostalgia, recollection, memory
  • Ageing in the light of faith/doubt
  • Ageing and a sense of place: home, travel, institutions, nature, revisiting and returning

We are delighted that a selection of papers from the conference will form the basis of a special issue on ‘Narratives of Ageing in the Nineteenth Century’ for the journal Age, Culture, Humanities to appear in 2021.

Please send proposals of no more than 200 words by 30th April 2019

‘Some curious disquiet’: Polidori, the Byronic vampire, and its progeny, 6-7 April

Open Graves, Open Minds presents:

Some curious disquiet’: Polidori, the Byronic vampire, and its progeny

A symposium for the bicentenary of The Vampyre

6-7 April 2019, Keats House, Hampstead

(part-sponsored by BARS)

Image via British Library

John Polidori published his tale The Vampyre in 1819. It is well known that his vampire emerged out of the same storytelling contest at the Villa Diodati in 1816 that gave birth to that other archetype of the Gothic heritage, Frankenstein’s monster. Present at this gathering were Polidori (who was Byron’s physician), Mary Godwin, Frankenstein’s author; Claire Clairmont, Percy Shelley, and (crucially) Lord Byron.

Byron’s contribution to the contest was an inconclusive fragment about a mysterious man characterised by ‘a curious disquiet’. Polidori took this fragment and turned it into the tale of the vampire Lord Ruthven, preying on the vulnerable women of society. The Vampyrewas something of a sensation and spawned stage versions and imitations that were hugely popular.

Sir Christopher Frayling declares The Vampyreto be ‘the first story successfully to fuse the disparate elements of vampirism into a coherent literary genre’. Polidori gave the creature the form that largely persists through subsequent vampire narratives, transforming it from the animalistic monster of the Slavic peasantry to something that can haunt the drawing rooms of Western society, undetected. Polidori’s Lord Ruthven, modelled on Lord Byron via Lady Caroline Lamb’s scandalous Glenarvon(1818), is aristocratic and sexualised and, though something of a blank canvas, even potentially sympathetic, providing a template for the ‘Byronic hero’ that features in Gothic romance down to the paranormal romances of the present day.

This symposium will trace Polidori’s bloodsucking progeny and his heritage of ‘curious disquiet’ in literature and other media. Guest speakers have been invited to share their research into the many variations on monstrosity and deadly allure spawned by Polidori’s seminal textual reincarnation of Byronic glamour. The delegates have been selected for their expertise in the Byronic, the Gothic, and the vampiric. The speakers are: Sir Christopher Frayling, Prof. Catherine Spooner, Prof. William Hughes, Dr Stacey Abbott, Dr Sue Chaplin, Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes, Prof. Nick Groom, Prof. Gina Wisker, Dr Sam George, Dr Bill Hughes, Dr Sorcha Ní Fhlainn, writer Marcus Sedgwick, and OGOM ECRs and doctoral students Dr Kaja Franck, Daisy Butcher, and Dr Jillian Wingfield.

The Symposium is being held at beautiful Keats House, Hampstead, home of the poet. The event will include a tour of Keats House (who hold a first edition of The Vampyre) and a trip to Highgate Cemetery, home of the Highgate Vampire (a sensation of the 1970s), and where Karl Marx (who made good use of the vampire metaphor) and others lie.

More details here.

Fees:

£70/day waged; £40/day postgraduate and unwaged

Fee includes all the talks, bespoke catering, including lunch and vampyre cup cakes, tour of Keats House and excursion to Highgate Cemetery.

You can book here.

We are very grateful for the cooperation of Keats House and for generous grants towards the Symposium from the British Association for Romantic Studies, the International Gothic Association, and the University of Hertfordshire.

Find out more about BARS Conference Support here.

Call for Papers: Radicalism and Reform in the Long Nineteenth Century

The London Victorian Studies Colloquium is an annual residential colloquium for postgraduates and postdocs working in Victorian Studies, to be held at Royal Holloway Centre for Victorian Studies, from 26-27th April, 2019.

This is a relatively informal weekend of postgraduate papers, plenary talks, and training and professionalisation workshops, allowing generous space also for participants to socialise and study in the beautiful surroundings of the college. We hope to include a viewing of the Victorian art collection in the Royal Holloway picture gallery.

This year’s event will include:

  • Plenary talks from Dr Carol Jacobi (Curator of British Art, 1850-1915, Tate Britain) and Dr Helen Goodman (Bath Spa University)
  • Research Beyond the Article with Professor Redell Olsen (Royal Holloway, University of London) and Dr Joanna Taylor (University of Manchester)
  • Panel Discussion on Academic Careers and the Place of ECRs in the University
  • Training in Nineteenth-Century Collections and Designing Innovative Teaching

Participants do not have to present a paper but we will be looking for a small number of speakers to give short papers (20 minutes) on any topic. For details of the CFP, please see below.

The Centre for Victorian Studies is grateful to the techne consortium and Department of English at Royal Holloway, University of London for supporting this event.


Registration

The colloquium is open to Masters, doctoral students and postdocs from the UK or abroad, working on any nineteenth-century topic.

This year’s event is free to techne students. Please use the dedicated ticketing link.

The deadline for applicants is 5.00pm on Friday 29th March, or as soon as places are full.

To book your place, visit the Royal Holloway Online Store.


Call for Papers

Radicalism and Reform in the Long Nineteenth Century: The London Victorian Studies Colloquium 2019

Friday 26th and Saturday 27th April 2019

Participants do not have to give papers, but we do seek proposals for a small number of 15-20 minute papers on interdisciplinary topics related to the conference theme.

These may include, but are in no way limited to:

  • Reforming Movements: Theosophy, the Salvation Army, women’s movements, animal rights, prison reform, law reform
  • Radical Politics: socialism, anarchism, anti-slavery
  • Reform as a return to past practices: Tractarianism/the Oxford Movement, anti-industrialism, artistic revivals
  • Imperialism and its afterlives
  • Radical Networks: local, national, transnational
  • Radical Bodies: Women’s Suffrage and Queer Histories
  • Past, Present, Future Time: From Utopias to Apocalypse
  • Representing social problems and constraints in the ‘Condition of England’ novel
  • Artistic, literary and cultural reforms, radicals and movements
  • Scientific and technological progress
  • Radical approaches to Victorian Studies; reforming the discipline

Please submit a 200-250 word abstract and a brief biography to Gursimran Oberoi (g.oberoi@surrey.ac.uk) by 15th February 2019.

Call for Essays: The Art and Science of Collecting in Eighteenth-Century Europe

The Art and Science of Collecting in Eighteenth-Century Europe
Edited by Dr. Arlene Leis and Dr. Kacie Wills

Sarah Stone, Perspective Interior View of Sir Ashton Lever’s Museum in Leicester’s Square, watercolor, London, March 30, 1785.

We are inviting chapter abstracts for a collection of essays designed for academics, specialists and enthusiasts interested in the interrelations between art, science and collecting in Europe during the long 18th century. Our volume will discuss the topic of art, science and collecting in its broadest sense and in diverse theoretical contexts, such as art historical, feminist, social, gendered, colonial, archival, literary and cultural ones. To accompany our existing contributions, we welcome essays that take a global and material approach, and are particularly keen on research that makes use of new archival resources. We encourage interdisciplinary perspectives and are especially interested in essays that reveal the way in which women participated in art, science, and collecting in some capacity. The compendium will consist of around 15 essays, 6000 words each (including footnotes), with up to four illustrations. In addition to these more traditional essays, we are looking for shorter (circa 1,000 words)  case studies on material objects pertaining to collections/collectors from that period. The subject of art, science and collecting will also be central to these contributions. These smaller pieces will each include one illustration. The following topics/case studies are particularly desired:

• Women’s collecting interests
• Histories and methodologies of collecting, taxonomies,
cataloging, arrangement, and modes of display
• Cabinets of curiosities/Wunderkammer
• Catalogues
• Collections housed in art and/or science institutions
• The boundaries between the natural and the artificial
• Scientific and artistic tools and instruments
• Seriality vs. rare objects
• Transitional objects
• Conservation
• Collecting networks
• The artist collector
• The scientist collector
• The overlapping of science, art and collecting in domestic
spaces
• Antiquarian collections
• Print culture

All inquiries should be addressed to Arlene Leis, aleis914@gmail.com or Kacie Wills, kacie.wills@gmail.com

Essay abstracts of 500 words and 300 word abstracts for smaller case studies are due January 30, 2019 and should be sent along with a short bio to: artsciencecollecting@gmail.com

Finished case studies will be due July 30, 2019, and due date for long essays will be September 30, 2019.

Report from ‘Romantic Novels 1818’ – Charles Maturin’s Women

A final 2018 report from the ‘Romantic Novels 1818’ seminar. This series is sponsored by BARS and seminars are held at the University of Greenwich. 

 

Charles Robert Maturin, Women; or, Pour et Contre (1818), as discussed by Christina Morin (University of Limerick)

Blog post report by Victoria Ravenwood (Canterbury Christ Church University)

 

 

The highly-anticipated final seminar in the ‘Romantic Novels 1818’ series was delivered by Christina Morin, of the University of Limerick, on Charles Robert Maturin’s Women; or, Pour et Contre. Interestingly, Morin opened the discussion with talk of another notable 1818 novel – namely, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein– and the Frankenreads project directed by Neil Fraistat to mark its 200-year anniversary. With this in mind, she presented the question: Why are we celebrating Frankensteinalone, and not any of the other great works published in that same year? Morin offered Maturin’s Womenas an equally fascinating alternative to Shelley’s seminal Gothic work.

Women; or, Pour et Contrewas Maturin’s fourth novel, and centres around the lives of two women – Eva, a deeply religious but naïve young girl; and Zaira, a beautiful, talented and successful actress – and their romantic involvements with the same man, the charming De Courcy. The novel was supposed to be published in 1816, but was not actually published until several months after the publication of Shelley’s Frankensteinin 1818. Although Shelley is highly unlikely to have read Women before this time, we do know that she was reading other works by Maturin (such as Melmoth the Wanderer) whilst she wrote and prepared Frankensteinfor publication. From this, Morin suggested, we can surmise not only the influence that Maturin’s writing had on Shelley, but also the ways in which he is responsible for contributing to the formation of the literary Gothic.

To be sure, Maturin’s works were popular and influential in the early decades of the nineteenth century. They are not as widely read today, however – evidenced in the fact that a copy of Maturin’s 1818 novel was hard to locate. Likewise, scholarship on Women; or, Pour et Contre,is limited. Morin suggested that the main reason for this erasure is that defining and identifying Irish Gothic fiction in the Romantic period is difficult, with criticism tending largely to overlook works which fall outside of the retrospectively defined boundaries of Romantic fiction (which, she added, is very much held to an ‘English standard’).

Morin explained that Irish writers had been contributing to the Gothic all along, with notable writers such as Regina Maria Roche utilizing the tropes of the genre as early as the 1780s, and yet she also noted that works by these writers are little read now. Moreover, they are continually written out of literary criticism, or else mentioned only to be dismissed as opportunistic imitators of more widely-acclaimed Gothic writers such as Ann Radcliffe. Morin argued, however, that works by the likes of Maturin cannot, and should not, be dismissed as such.

– Victoria Ravenwood

Free ‘Keats200’ launch event at Keats House, Hampstead on Saturday 1 Dec 2018

A message from Keats House, Hampstead (home of the poet from 1818 to 1820, now a museum and poetry centre).

Keats200 Launch: Saturday 1 December 2018

On Saturday 1 December, you are invited to join us for a special event to launch our Keats200 programme, which celebrates Keats’s most productive years as a poet.

From 10am, we will meet at Well Walk to journey with Keats and companions down to Keats House for a ceremonial opening of the House.

The House will be open from 11am – 5pm and will be free to everyone on that day. Drop in to meet Keats and companions and take part in a range of special events including discussions with Professor Nicholas Roe and Dr Anna Mercer on Keats and Romantic poetry, tours of the House, poetry readings and activities for all ages.

The walk will be repeated at 2pm, arriving at the House for 3pm. Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear for both walks.

Just as Keats was welcomed by his friends to Wentworth Place, we look forward to welcoming you too, to the place where he found inspiration, friendship and love, now known as Keats House.

See below for timings and booking details for selected events:

10 – 11am
Walk with Keats to Wentworth Place (now Keats House). Booking essential via keatsevents.eventbrite.co.uk.

11am
Ceremonial arrival at Keats House and opening of Keats at Wentworth Place exhibition.

11am – 5pm
House open for free to all, including Build your own Wentworth Place activity for families, and the Keats House Poetry Ambassadors reading Keats’s poems throughout the day.

12noon – 12.30pm
Join Professor Nicholas Roe for a conversation about Keats in 1818-19.

12.45pm – 1.15pm
Dr Anna Mercer hosts a talk and Q&A on the Romantic movement and its significance.

2pm – 3pm
Repeat: Walk with Keats to Wentworth Place (now Keats House). Booking essential via keatsevents.eventbrite.co.uk.

2.15pm – 3pm
Guided tour of the house.

3.15pm – 3.45pm
Repeat: Join Professor Nicholas Roe for a conversation about Keats in 1818-19.

3.30pm – 4.30pm
Meet with Keats and associates in Hampstead, 1818.

4pm – 4.30pm
Repeat: Dr Anna Mercer hosts a talk and Q&A on the Romantic movement and its significance.

4.45pm – 5pm
Q&A with Rob Shakespeare, Principal Curator, on the Keats200 bicentenary.

Book tickets for the walk here.

Announcement: ‘Mary Hays: Life, Writings, and Correspondence’

‘Mary Hays: Life, Writings, and Correspondence’ is a fully searchable website now open to the public.

The site presents the most complete accounting to date of the life and career of Mary Hays (1759-1843).  The site provides students and scholars with access to all pertinent materials related to Hays, especially her extensive correspondence, including some 90 letters by her close friend Eliza Fenwick (1766-1840) appearing for the first time in their entirety.

 

 

More than 400 letters, fully annotated, can be found in this collection. The site also includes the complete texts of all her periodical writings (1784-1800) and all reviews of her own writings, as well as the complete text of Cursory Remarks (1792) and much of Letters and Essays(1793). The site contains the first complete genealogy of Hays, including the discovery of her previously unknown youngest sister, Marianna Hays (1773-97), and her numerous nephews and nieces, including the radical feminist writer Matilda Mary Hays (1820-97), not previously known to have been Hays’s niece.

Biographical notices of more than 100 individuals connected with Mary Hays can also be found on the site. Much of the new material on Hays has come from the diary, reminiscences, and correspondence of her long-time friend and relation through marriage, Henry Crabb Robinson (1775-1867). The material on the site situates Hays within a vibrant culture of religious Dissent for the entirety of her life, a culture that both gives rise to her writing aspirations and circumscribes them thereafter.

The site has been created and compiled by Timothy Whelan, Georgia Southern University.