18th century, 19th century, Arts

Mary Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft: A Sublime Lineage

In challenging at once the prevailing political attitudes of the time, and the literary ones, Wollstonecraft lays a foundation for her daughter, Mary Shelley, to continue these efforts. Wollstonecraft was arguing for a sense of radical inclusion, that by ironing out the divisions between men and women mankind might become, in her words, ‘more wise and virtuous’, with a greater sense of equality. Wollstonecraft died giving birth to her daughter, Mary, a fact which haunted Shelley throughout her life.

19th century, Arts, Humanities

“O, Portia! take my heart”: Ellen Terry and the Aesthetics of Costume

“In the 1820s and 1830s […] theatre productions in London were becoming more elaborate in their setting, dressing and ‘getting up’” (Taylor 1993, 3).  Shakespeare productions in the Victorian era were marked by a sumptuous and decadent attention to visual artistry.


Sketches of a Gaze: Céline Sciamma’s Watchful Cinema

In writer-director Céline Sciamma’s landmark lesbian film Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019), set in eighteenth-century France, the young noblewoman Heloïse (Adèle Haenel, who is Sciamma’s former partner) refuses to sit for a portrait. Soon to marry an unknown Milanese man, for whom the portrait is destined, this is the only rebellion she can wage.


Mavis Gallant, ‘The Ice Wagon Going Down the Street’

Mavis Gallant was a Canadian writer, born in 1922. She is known as a short story writer, although other works include the novels: ​Green Water, Green Sky ​(1959), ​A Fairly Good Time ​(1970), and an essay collection, ​Paris Notebooks ​(1986). Working as a journalist for ​The Montreal Standard​, she was one of the first to witness and report on the photos of the liberation of the Nazi camps...


The Princess and the Pea: Princess Marie Bonaparte’s Search for a Vaginal Orgasm

"...Marie’s indefatigable quest for a vaginal orgasm would lead her to undergo surgery three times to relocate her clitoris. Criticised by some as a deluded defender of phallo-centricity, she should be seen instead as a courageous advocate of a woman’s right to her own sexual satisfaction." Clara Wade discusses Marie Bonaparte and the female orgasm.


The Strangeness Within: Julia Kristeva and Cosmopolitanism

Cosmopolitanism has become a dirty word in twenty-first century politics. Postmodern progressivism and resurgent ethnonationalism, somewhat unlikely bedfellows, have together exposed the inadequacy of traditional cosmopolitan models to accommodate diversity. Under attack from both sides of the political spectrum, the prospect of global citizenship seems increasingly undesirable, passé and even suspect.


“A Horse Caught In A Stable On Fire”: The Predicament of the Learned Woman in 18th century England

By Yvette Dell Jane Barker’s semi-autobiographical heroine in The Galesia Trilogy - three novels published between 1713 and 1726 - embodies not only the literary female but the educated woman. Like Barker’s conflation of needles and pens in the titles of her novels, A Patch-Work Screen for the Ladies (1723)and The Lining for the Patch-work… Continue reading “A Horse Caught In A Stable On Fire”: The Predicament of the Learned Woman in 18th century England


The Mutations of Fortune: How Christine de Pizan became the first professional female writer

By Ramani Chandramohan Women in medieval literature are often depicted as damsels in distress, waiting at the top of a tower for a knight in shining armour to come and rescue them. The life of the writer Christine de Pizan was about as far from that trope as you can get. As a child, she… Continue reading The Mutations of Fortune: How Christine de Pizan became the first professional female writer


An Agender American Evangelist: the Public Universal Friend

By Rowan Wilson  In 1776, a 23-year-old Rhode Island Quaker named Jemima Wilkinson fell gravely ill. Several days later, they recovered—miracle enough in a year where New England saw a number of epidemics course through its communities like forest fires. But at some point in those feverish few days, they claimed, something more remarkable had… Continue reading An Agender American Evangelist: the Public Universal Friend