Join us for our Women in History Series. This public engagement lecture series features four lively guest lectures, drawing on the latest research in history, English, and cultural studies.
Exploring a range of material from private letters to prisoner of war memoirs, magazines, and scandalous popular novels, these lectures will recreate the voices and experiences of early modern women in an engaging and accessible manner.
All lectures are free to attend but registration is required. Please arrive at 18:00 for 18:30 start.
Wednesday 17 January: The Private Lives of Tudor Women
Speaker: Professor James Daybell
In this talk Professor James Daybell draws on research spanning over two decades to uncover the private lives of Tudor women. Based on letters, diaries and other personal writings, Professor Daybell sheds important new light on the fascinating roles of women at court, as political players, as well as in the family and home, acting as wives, mothers and daughters. Professor Daybell is author of more than nine books on early modern women, gender and politics and letter-writing, including Women Letter-Writers in Tudor England (Oxford, 2006).
Thursday 8 March: Captured! Mary Rowlandson’s experiences as a prisoner of war in colonial America
Speaker: Dr Kathryn Gray
Join us on International Women's Day for this evening lecture.
In 1675, Mary Rowlandson, a resident of colonial New England and a member of the Puritan elite, was taken captive during the conflict most commonly referred to as King Philip’s War (1675-78). She was ransomed 11 weeks later. Her experiences of this time in captivity were published in her own words the following decade in The Sovereignty and Goodness of God (1682); the narrative was published on both sides of the Atlantic and became a bestseller. In 17th century New England it was unusual for women to write and publish, even more unusual for them to write about war, and quite extraordinary that it’s this personal narrative account, by a woman from colonial North America, that frames the popular understanding of this devastating colonial war. This talk will unravel the significance of Mary's experiences and the literary value of this ground-breaking narrative account.
Wednesday 25 April: The Lady’s Magazine: the origins and influence of the first modern women's magazine
Speaker: Dr Jennie Batchelor
Dr Jennie Batchelor will shed light on the phenomenal popularity and importance of a title that Charlotte Bronte wished with all her 'heart' she 'had been born in time to contribute to'. For six decades after it inauspiciously launched in 1770 the Lady's Magazine; or, Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex presented its readers with a panoramic view of the world of life, literature and the arts and sciences. For a modest price, readers were provided with a monthly feast of fiction, poetry, essays on history, science, politics and travel, advice columns, fashion reports, recipes, biographies, puzzles, news bulletins, as well as elegant engravings, fashion plates, embroidery patterns and song sheets. The magazine launched the literary careers of writers such as George Crabbe and Mary Russell Mitford and, more importantly, provided publication opportunities for hundreds of other female and also male amateur writers who filled its pages and reached readerships Jane Austen could only have dreamed of.
Wednesday 20 June: Eliza Parsons in the 1790s: Plymouth’s 'horrid' gothic novelist
Speaker: Dr Karen Morton
The works of Plymouth-born Eliza Parsons are now mostly found only in specialist libraries, but, between 1790 and 1807, she was a prolific writer in a number of genres, including the Gothic and novels of contemporary manners. Forced by circumstances to write for a living, she wrote two of the seven 'Horrid' novels recommended by Isabella Thorpe to Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey. Come and discover what Jane Austen knew that we've forgotten!