Women’s Changing Lives

Hilary Term 2018 at Wolfson College
(All events are free of charge and open to all unless otherwise stated)

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Weinrebe Lecture

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.

Weinrebe Lecture

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.

Weinrebe Lecture

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.

Weinrebe Lecture

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.

Tuesday 27 February 5:30 – 7pm
What counts as evidence?

A photograph, a letter, a bracelet with a story… many of us have objects that we count as evidence for something. The object clearly exists, but how sure are we about our conclusions? Members of the College will present objects and their stories, and will be cross-examined by a panel of experts from Archaeology, Law, and the Police.

Convened by Philomen Probert and Kate Kennedy

Tuesday 6 March 1 – 2pm, Haldane Room
Life-Writing Lunch – Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers

In this talk, we shall hear of the challenges and opportunities of writing a biography of the one of the most brilliant and original thinkers of the last century—the great Cambridge philosopher, economist, and mathematician, Frank Ramsey. He was at least Wittgenstein’s equal in philosophy, and a major influence on his difficult friend. He is the founder of rational choice theory. He wrote two classic papers for Keynes, each sparking a branch of economics. The eight pages of mathematics he published is now a fruitful branch of combinatoric mathematics called Ramsey Theory.

Beyond his scholarship, he had a fascinating life. He began his Cambridge undergraduate degree just as the Great War was ending; he was part of the race to be psychoanalyzed in Vienna in the 1920s; he was a core member of the Apostles during one of its most vital periods; he was part of Bloomsbury and the Guild Socialist movement. All of this, and more, was accomplished in under a decade. Ramsey died in 1930, just shy of his 27th birthday.

Join us for lunch to hear Professor Cheryl Misak discuss the challenges of writing Ramsey’s biography. Lunch is free, registration essential.

Saturday 17 March 10 – 5pm
Transnational Lives and Cosmopolitan Communities

This one-day conference will examine the relationship between life-writing, transnationalism and language-led research. Key questions to be explored include: the representation of cosmopolitan identities; the transnational circulation of fame; and the tangled relationship between creativity, migration, and exile. Convened by Philip Bullock and Sandra Mayer in collaboration with the “Writing 1900” research network.

Fee £20 (£10 concessions). Register here.


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