2018: Women’s Changing Lives

Wednesday 24 January 5:30 – 7pm
Writing Women: the fourth generation

Novelist Kamila Shamsie considers what it means to be part of the fourth generation of women writers in a family, and how family history might work its way into fictional representations of women across continents and centuries, despite the paucity of autobiographical content in her novels.
Wednesday 31 January 5:30 – 7pm
Not things seen, always things imagined

Rachel Holmes speaks about Sylvia Pankhurst’s visionary approach to art, politics and life-writing. Rachel is the author of Eleanor Marx: A Life, serialised on BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize.
Wednesday 7 February 5:30 – 7pm
Sex, politics and selfhood: girls’ life-writing and historical change, Britain 1800-1900.

The Victorian cult of the little girl encouraged the idealisation of female children as the embodiment of purity, yet the conceptualisation of girlhood was fraught.  The sexual age of consent for girls remained  12 years old until 1875; and practices which have become taboo in our culture (the photographing of little girls in the nude, or the encouragement of intimate friendships between adult men and young girls) were widely normalised.

In this talk Professor Kathryn Gleadle will consider how girls themselves perceived sexuality, intimacy  and  attraction through introducing some of the many girlhood diaries that have hitherto lain neglected in archives. These often startling journals explode many assumptions about nineteenth-century girlhood. They  indicate that even young girls could articulate a sense of sexual selfhood. Indeed, for many, a consciousness of politics and civic life was often entangled with these intimate facets of their subjectivity. In a century in which British women gained significant social and political advances such findings raise profound and sometimes troubling questions concerning the complex relationships between gender and political identity in this period.
Monday 12 February 5:30 – 7pm
The Rhetorical Voice

Playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker explores the meaning of rhetorical voice in drama, in her work and in the work of other playwrights. Is the rhetorical voice different when it is female rather than male? Timberlake is the Chair of Playwriting at the University of East Anglia, and artistic adviser to RADA.


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