There was an excellent turn out to this hotly awaited addition to the CRECS programme, which set out to explore the (fifty?) shades of grey that existed in eighteenth century attitudes to sex, gender and domesticity.
Participants gathered around the tables in Special Collections and Archives, upon which were scattered extracts from the texts for discussion. First, we heard from Melanie Bigold, introducing Eliza Haywood’s Fantomina; or Love in a Maze (1725). A radical rewrite of the typical ‘persecuted maiden’ tale, Haywood attributes sexual desire, cunning and power to her female protagonist. Our heroine, an upper-class lady from the provinces, newly arrived in London, decides to impersonate a prostitute, upon observing the relaxed, easy conversation they seem able to hold with men. In this guise, she successfully engages the rakish Beauplaisir in conversation, an encounter which ends in her rape. Undefeated, yet concerned for her reputation, she creates a false identity, ‘Fantomina’, and continues to pursue Beauplaisir. He quickly tires of her, and in response to this inconstancy, Fantomina turns once more to her dressing up box. She dons a series of disguises in order to engineer multiple seductions of Beauplaisir, posing as different women. There is no mention of Fantomina’s hope or need for marriage; she is solely motivated by desire, and possibly the power-play and revenge implicit in routinely tricking Beauplaisir into sex. Participants took turns reading sections of Fantomina aloud, to fully immerse themselves in Haywood’s prose style. Continue reading
Gowan Dawson (University of Leicester) will be presenting his paper, ‘Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 21st Centuries’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 24 March 2015. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.48.
The ‘Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 21st Centuries’ project is an innovative collaboration between the Universities of Oxford and Leicester in partnership with the Natural History Museum, the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal Society. The project explores, and contributes to, the growing movement of what has come to be known as ‘Citizen Science’, partly through working with contemporary scientists involved in the online Zooniverse network, but also through historical research into the networks and communities who contributed to science in the nineteenth century, at a period when divisions between professionals and amateurs were only just emerging. This paper will focus on the project’s historical research on scientific periodicals, examining the possibilities of drawing on historical understandings of the role of science journals in the nineteenth century’s information revolution to enhance citizen participation in science in the twenty-first century’s own digital revolution. Continue reading
Our next CRECS event turns to the eternal question of sexuality, gender and domesticity (in the eighteenth century). Christian Grey may be the man of the moment (unfortunately), but the Georgians had their own—characteristic, shall we say?—view of romance and sex, which might raise a few eyebrows even today. The literature, drama and art of the eighteenth century offer myriad views of sexual mores that are as complex and contradictory as our own, ranging from prudence to prurience, from respectability to rakishness.
Women, in particular, found themselves at the heart of a paradox. On the one hand, they were expected to comply with ideologies regarding the correct modes of female behaviour, which was always under scrutiny and strictly regulated. On the other hand, women were objects of unflinching male desire and transgressive passion: the controlling gaze of the father could transform into the illicit voyeurism of the lover. Continue reading
Just a quick note to say that, following some discussions, we’ve decided to adjust our schedule for the next two CRECS events, to take into account our students’ mid-term assessments and presentations, as outlined below:
- How to Keep Your (Georgian) Man (originally 10th March) will now take place on the 17th.
- CRECS Sound and Vision (originally 17th March) will now take place on 28th April.
The Events page has been updated accordingly.