ISECS 2019 Panel Abstract: Making Women: Creative Constructions & Material Knowledge

I’m super excited to be organising a panel for ISECS 2019 with Dr Serena Dyer, Dr Madeleine Pelling, and Ryna Ordynat. The session, titled ‘Making Women: Creative Constructions & Material Knowledge’, will think about women’s creative production during this period, and my paper will focus on how women’s collage and its historiographies. The full panel abstract is below:

This panel considers the strategies employed by elite and genteel women to develop diverse material and artistic forms of expression in eighteenth-century England. Through positioning collage, sketching, and stitching alongside writing, the women examined through this series of papers employed their material knowledge to record their interactions with a sophisticated material landscape. These papers ask urgent questions about how we acknowledge and position these material and artistic practices, while demonstrating their centrality to the construction of a range of female identities in the long eighteenth century.

Ordynat’s paper examines the gendered nature of album keeping and considers how the ephemeral connotations of the album as amateur and anonymous has veiled the emotional and cultural significance of this material practice. Gowrley’s paper examines collage made by women in the eighteenth century, arguing for its centrality ‘as a mode of female artistic expression and unpacking its complex and revealing historiography. Bridging artistic practice and material knowledge, Pelling’s paper examines women’s written accounts of collections and collectors and positions them as material and textual spaces which were important material extension of women’s experiences. Finally, Dyer’s paper considers how these creative practices can be framed as material forms of live writing. Together, these papers invite discussion surrounding the gendered nature of engagement with the material world and call for crucial conversations about the strategies used to access women’s lives and material literacies.

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