Current seminars

This is an archive page.  The Women’s Studies Group website has now moved to a different home: for the latest news, please visit

The Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837 seminars take place at the Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N 1AZ.  Seminars take place on the third Saturday of September, November, January, and March, between 1 and 4pm.  Doors open at 12.30pm, and there is a break for tea and coffee halfway through the session.  There are usually three speakers per seminar, and we start promptly so as to give time for supportive feedback and discussion from members.  Seminars are free and open to the public though non-members will be asked to make a donation of £2 for refreshments.

The WSG invites papers formal and informal, as well as works-in-progress, on any topic related to early modern and long eighteenth-century women’s and gender studies, be it literature, medicine, art, music, theatre, religion, economics, sexuality, and so on.  Early career and independent scholars are particularly welcome.  We put out a call for papers every February through August on sites like, but if you would like to be considered as a speaker please contact the Seminars Organiser, Dr Carolyn Williams.

Non-member attendees including speakers are strongly encouraged to join WSG, and can do so here.

Current programme: 

Saturday 17th September, 2016. Chair: TBC
Brianna Elyse Robertson-KirklandVenanzio Rauzzini (1746 – 1810) and his female operatic students.
Judith PageAusten 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 Birthday of Queen Mary I in Book Dedications
Emma NewportInterplay 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 DraperMary Beale and the Performance of Friendship.
Mascha HansenBeyond 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 BuurmanAlmack’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).


Previous programme:

Saturday 26th  September 2015, 1-4pm, Foundling Museum
Chair: Angela Escott

Diana Ambache, ‘Women composers of the late 18th century
This paper presents two Enlightenment composers.  Sophia Dussek (1775-1830) was part of the lively musical scene in London.  Marianne Martinez (1744-1812) wrote the 1st classical Symphony by a woman.

Paula Higgins, ‘Suppressing the Suppression of Fanny Hensel: Textual Ellipsis and Other Signs of Biographical Censorship
A tell-tale sign of the longstanding gender politics in which Fanny Hensel (1805-1847) and her quest for musical authorship have become enmeshed are repeated attempts on the part of biographers to shield her brother, Felix Mendelssohn from accusations of thwarting his sister’s ambitions.

Elizabeth Weinfield, ‘Isabella d’Este: Patronage, Performance, and the Viola da Gamba

Arlene Leis, ‘Sarah Sophia Banks as a Collector
This talk will focus on the rich paper collections amassed by Sarah Sophia Banks (1744-1818), now housed in the British Museum and British Library.

Saturday 28th November 2015, 1-4pm, Foundling Museum
Chair: Felicity Roberts

Tita Chico, ‘Knowledge Seduction
In this talk, I argue that the circulation of and belief in natural philosophy in the long eighteenth century can be understood through the logic of seduction, a well-established topos in literary history.

Andrew McInnes, ‘Resistant Readers in Sarah Fielding’s The Governess
This presentation explores how the act of interpretation is portrayed in didactic children’s literature of the eighteenth century, allowing a glimpse of indiscipline in works which have otherwise been read as straightforwardly disciplinary.

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)
Mary Robinson’s Romance, written during a period of anti-revolutionary backlash in England, overtly criticises the patriarchal order that pervades Europe.  It offers the reader a new family dynamic – one that is based on equality.

Saturday 30th January 2016,  1-4pm, Foundling Museum
Chair: Lois Chaber

Valerie Schutte, ‘Pre-accession Printed Book Dedications to Mary and Elizabeth Tudor
(see a publication of Valerie’s here)
This paper will offer a comparison of the printed book dedications received by Mary and Elizabeth Tudor before each woman became queen.  This analysis will demonstrate how each royal sibling was connected to early book culture within Tudor England before she took the throne and how that interplayed with her course of education.

Brianna Elyse Robertson-Kirkland, ‘Venanzio Rauzzini (1746-1810) and his female operatic students
Venanzio Rauzzini, an Italian castrato, was described by The Monthly Mirror in 1807 as ‘the father of a new style of English singing and a new race of singers’, and lists a number of the most esteemed opera singers of the period as his students, including Nancy Storace, Elizabeth Billington and Gertrud Mara.

Sarah Oliver, ‘From Rape to Desire: Mary Hays’s Revision of the Love Theme and Jane Austen’s “New” Heroines’ (see a publication of Sarah’s here)
The discussion argues that fictional representations of female sexual desire were problematic for women writers in the Long Eighteenth Century, until Radical writers including Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Hays re-worked the theme.