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Sociability and Networks


The Diary of Sharon Turner, transcribed from typescript held in the British Library by Clare Clarke, Warwick University.

Clare Clarke undertook the transcription while a first year undergraduate an History at Warwick, supported by an Undergraduate Research Support Scheme grant, in the summer of 2015. She completed the work on the diary in the following summer. The EHRC would like to thank Clare for allowing us to bring this material to a wider audience.



Women’s Society, 1750-1830
7-8 July 2016
University of Notre Dame Global Gateway,
1 Suffolk Street London

In Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters, Molly Gibson’s reputation is compromised when she is seen to consort with a single man on the outskirts of the village. It is only restored when Lady Harriet takes her around the village in a display of her confidence in her. Although written in 1864, it is a scene that might easily have featured in Jane Austen’s, or Amelia Opie’s novels. The exact boundaries between probity and infelicitous action might vary, but they are boundaries that women are very much responsible for supervising amongst themselves. This is not irrespective of the masculine world of expectation, propriety and power, but it is a distinct domain of self-policing – and, as in other cases, it might sometimes be still more censorious in some areas, or experience greater anxiety, than is the case for that wider masculine world. Moreover, it is clearly not a unified world – conventions and expectations function in relation to particular reference groups, and while no reference group is wholly immune from the deeper societal expectations of conduct and their associated penalties for misconduct, people rate some groups and associations more strongly than others. Amelia Alderson had no qualms about forming a friendship with Mary Wollstonecraft; Elizabeth Inchbald and the Twisses did, once the character of her relationship with Imlay became clear. But none of Godwin’s women friends were introduced to Sarah Elwes.This interdisciplinary workshop will examine three dimensions of the conventions in constructing and representing women’s experience across the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe: it will examine the way sources reveal the opportunities and constraints in social relations between women, and women and men; it will consider the way in which novels of the period represent the social conventions of interaction; and it will assess how far there are conflicts between the experience of women and their representation in the world of fiction. The workshop is especially interested in exploring the details of interaction and reconstructing the conventions that seem to have operated, and in examining symmetries and asymmetries between the lives of authors and the lives of their characters. The fictional representation of different social positions and mores also requires setting alongside other evidence of elite practice and that of the middling and lower orders.We invite proposals for papers from scholars in any discipline that address women’s society from the mid eighteenth to the mid nineteenth-centuries. Chronological boundaries are flexibly conceived, and proposals for papers which address earlier and later periods but which overlap with 1750–1830 are encouraged. Similarly, while the central focus of the conference will be on Women’s Society in Britain, papers on conventions of behavior in other European countries (or of nationals abroad) are welcome.
Abstracts (max. 500 words) for 20-minute papers should be sent, with a short biography, to inewman@nd.edu by 1 May 2016. For more information please contact the conference organizers Ian Newman (University of Notre Dame) or Mark Philp (University of Warwick), at inewman@nd.edu and Mark.Philp@warwick.ac.uk

Programme: (Synopses)

Thursday 7 July 2016
1:00-1:15pm Reception / Coffee
1:15-1:35 Mark Philp: Introduction
1:35-2:25 Paper 1: Margaret Doody: 'A New System of Gunning': Susannah Minifie, Beauties, Plots, and Gillray's caricatures"
2:25-3:05 Paper 2 Hannah Grieg & Amanda Vickery: The Political Day: Mapping Gender and High Politics
3:05-3:25 BREAK
3:25-4:05 Paper 3 Chloe Wigston Smith: The Haberdasher’s Plot
4.05 -4:54 Paper 4 Karen Wade: A Flirt’s Progress
4:45-5:05 BREAK
5:05-5:45 Paper 5 Georgia Haseldine: Portraits of Radical Women
5:45-6:25 Paper 6 Natalie Hanley Smith: The Devonshire menage a trois 1783-1806
7:15 DINNER


Friday 8 July 2016

9.00-9:30am Coffee
9:30-10:10 Paper 7 Margie Housley: Heart without Sentiment: Wollstonecraft’s Letters
10:10-10:50 Paper 8 Ian Newman: Alehouse Women
10:50-11:10 BREAK
11:10-11:50 Paper 9 Julie Watt, The Scottish Austen
11:50-12:30 Paper 10 Emma Major Propriety and Genre – Barbauld’s Sermons
12:30-1:30 LUNCH
1:30-2:10 Paper 11 Jon Mee, Some mode less revolting to their delicacy: Women and intellectual sociality in the Transpennine enlightenment.
2:10-2:50 Paper 12 Amy Milka: Petticoats on Trial
2:50-3:10 Paper 13

3:10-3:50 BREAK
3:50-3:50 Paper 14 Dosia Reichardt: Such delightful apples: Austen’s Philanthropy
3:50-4:30 Paper 15 Michelle O’Connell: You can keep your flowers: Graveside Decorum
4:30-5.00 Closing remarks


Workshop University of Warwick,

March 22nd 2016

9.30-6.00

Papers by:

Mark Philp, Maria Luddy, Christina Lupton, Harriet Guest (York), Jon Mee, Gerardine Meaney, Natalie Hanley-Smith

(This workshop will be followed up with a joint event between University of Wariwck and University of Notre Dame in London on 7-8th July, 2016)

In Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters, Molly Gibson’s reputation is compromised when she is seen to consort with a single man on the outskirts of the village. It is only restored when Lady Harriet takes her around the village in a display of her confidence in her. Although written in 1864, it is a scene that might easily have featured in Jane Austen’s, or Amelia Opie’s novels. The exact boundaries between probity and infelicitous action might vary, but they are boundaries that women are very much responsible for supervising amongst themselves. This is not irrespective of the masculine world of expectation, propriety and power, but it is a distinct domain of self-policing – and, as in other cases, it might sometimes be still more censorious in some areas, or experience greater anxiety, than is the case for that wider masculine world. Moreover, it is clearly not a unified world – norms and expectations function in relation to particular reference groups, and while no reference group is wholly immune from the deeper societal expectations of conduct and their associated penalties for misconduct, people rate some groups and associations more strongly than others. Amelia Alderson had no qualms about forming a friendship with Mary Wollstonecraft; Elizabeth Inchbald and the Twisses did, once the character of her relationship with Imlay became clear. But none of Godwin’s women friends were introduced to Sarah Elwes.

This project is concerned to bring scholars from history, literature and a range of other disciplines to analyse the details of domestic and social interaction among women of various social statuses - using letters, diaries, novels and legal records – so as to identify the forms that within-gender policing took, and to attempt a reconstruction of the norms and boundaries they policed, and how these varied for different social groups and localities (rural vs metropolitan, for example).

The project will examine a wide range of different ways in which norms can be identified and inferred, for example through the use of quantitative techniques about frequency, timing, and nature of visiting, the use of women’s time, and varieties of evidence about periods of sociability between women, points of encounter and tension with men, both from within and outside families.

The project will focus on the period 1780 to 1820, and is particularly focussed on the policing of conduct in London and provincial towns in the revolutionary decade. It might also be constructive to consider experiences of women (English or other) in the rest of Europe at the same period.

Mark Philp, Maria Luddy, Christina Lupton, Rebecca Probert, David Taylor, Harriet Guest

MP 26/10/15

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