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Monday 17 October 2011

Another exciting workshop on reproduction in Cambridge

I do find it somewhat amusing that this plethora of fascinating events on reproduction-related matters is taking place at the academic institution from which William Empson was dismissed for the possession of contraceptives in 1929.
Interdisciplinary Workshop on Reproduction 7
Friday, 18 November 2011
09:00 - 18:00
Location: CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge
9.00 -9.20 Registration
9.20 -9.30 Welcome and Introductions
9.30 - 10.00 Session 1
Chair: Susan Golombok (CFR)
Karin Ekholm (HPS)
"Why we begin with the hen's egg": investigations of animal generation, 1600-1650
10.00 - 10.30  Peter Jones (King's College)
Lea Olsan (University of Louisiana at Monroe)
Charms and amulets for conception and childbirth
10.30 - 11.00 
Sarah Jennings (CFR)
Children's voices: the perspectives of children and young adults with lesbian and gay parents
11.00 - 11.30 Tea/Coffee Break
11.30 - 12.00 Session 2
Chair: Richard Smith (Geography)

Romola Davenport (Geography)
Reproduction in the city: the revolution in infant survival in eighteenth century London
12.00 - 12.30
Anne R Hanley (History)
Venereal conundrums: medical and social knowledge of venereal disease in late-Victorian and Edwardian England
12.30 - 13.00
Salim Al-Gailani (HPS)
Maternal nutrition and the medicalization of pregnancy in late twentieth-century Britain

13.00 - 14.00 Lunch Break
14.00 - 14.30 Session 3
Chair: John Forrester (HPS)

Fran Bigman (English)
The shattered mould: abortion and class in 1930s rhetoric and fiction
14.30 - 15.00 
Jesse Olszynko-Gryn (HPS)
Pregnancy test pills as camouflaged abortifacients in the 1960s
15.00 - 15.30 Tea/Coffee Break
15.30 - 16.00 Session 4
Chair: Nick Hopwood (HPS)

Ramona Braun (HPS)
Endoscopic alternatives for female fertilisation and sterilisation in the 1960s
16.00 - 16.30
Susan Imrie (CFR)
An investigation into the impact of surrogacy on the children of surrogate mothers

16.30 Closing remarks

Saturday 8 October 2011

Eleanor Gordon and Gwyneth Nair, Public Lives: Women, Family and Society in Victorian Britain (2003)

Apart from a slight cavil over the title, which is presumably publisher business rather than the authors's choice - the book is rather specifically about middle class families in Victorian Glasgow - I thought this was an amazing and very useful book. I sometimes think it can never be reiterated too much that that whole public/private boundary was fairly permeable, what with the home/domestic space being a site for sociability, for a significant number of occupations where the male head of the family did all or some of his work, etc, etc, and women being in public in a whole range of capacities from the pursuit of pleasure to the practice of philanthropy, and by the end of the period, the campaign for political rights.

Makes one wonder whether too often 'public' life has been taken to mean involvement in formal political activity on a national or local level and engagement in a remunerative profession.

Though Gordon and Nair show not only that women were heading a significant number of households, they were not infrequently managing their own money (if they were single, widowed, or had money settled on them when married) and even pursuing a range of occupations beyond that of governess. It's also clear that in the class being described, women were often partners in their husbands' endeavours, even if few went as far as Agnes Lister in being Joseph Lister's experimental subject in calculating the dosage for chloroform.

A wonderful range of sources was consulted to make up this book,  from public records such as census returns and property taxes, and wills and testamentary dispositions, to private family papers.

One question that does rise is the extent to which the life-styles they describe were inflected by particular characteristics of Scots law, religion and social practice, or even the specific civil culture of Glasgow. However, they do make a powerful case for not accepting the rhetoric and ideology of 'separate spheres' and simplistic interpretation of the public and the private when thinking about gender roles in Victorian Britain (and indeed other times and places)

Thursday 6 October 2011

A few blocks down the Euston Road

I was reminded about this by a post on the Women's History Network Discussion List. I was involved in the early discussions about this gallery, but I missed the formal opening in June because I was attending the Berks, so it rather slipped off my radar.

Thanks to ‘EGA for Women’, a group that campaigned to preserve the core of the former Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital, and to the generosity of UNISON, The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery is now open to the public. It is a permanent installation in the beautifully restored 1890s hospital building, part of the new UNISON Centre. Using a variety of media, the gallery tells the story of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, her hospital, and women’s struggle to achieve equality in the field of medicine, set within the wider framework of 19th and 20th century social history.

The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery
The UNISON Centre
130 Euston Road
London NW1 2AY
Telephone: 0845 355 084

The gallery is very close to the Wellcome Collection, the British Library – and Euston and King’s Cross stations. Numerous bus routes pass the door.

Admission is free and the gallery is open Wednesday to Friday 9.00am to 6.00pm and on the first Saturday of every month 9.00am to 6.00pm. An audio descriptive guide for the blind and partially sighted is available at the Reception Desk.