Historians with an interest in personal and public memory know a great deal about the challenges entailed in attempting to document the affective contours of past and present lives.
Esther Breitenbach and Pat Thane’s edited collection, Women and Citizenship in Britain and Ireland in the Twentieth Century is a timely and very useful addition to the historiography.
In her most recent publication, Felicity Nussbaum masterfully explores the relationship between the celebrated actresses of the 18th-century English stage and the changing economic and social mores of the period.
Midst the foe, and the stranger she seeks not renown
She courts not their smiles, and she heeds not their frowns
Could she only impart unto childhood and youth
The science of God, of religion, and truth... (p. 110)
What was killing the girls of the Casa della Pietà? This is the question which recurs throughout Nicholas Terpstra’s study of the Pietà, a Florentine charitable shelter for orphaned and abandoned girls. According to Terpstra, the Pietà was ‘the most unsafe place in Florence for a girl to live’ (p.
Chocolate, writes Emma Robertson in the introduction to her monograph, ‘has been invested with specific cultural meanings which are in part connected to … conditions of production’ (p. 3). At the heart of this study is a challenge to existing histories:
Deborah Simonton’s Women in European Culture and Society: Gender, Skill and Identity from 1700 purports a ‘straightforward agenda – to explore European women’s relationship to their culture and society since about 1700’ (p. 1).
The poor Victorians, they’ve been constantly rebuked for their sexual repression by daring rebels. Somehow, these rebels became the archetypes of Victorian culture – such as the beloved Pre-Raphaelites.
‘I am what you would call a Fallen Woman, but I assure you I did not fall – I was pushed’ (Faber, p. 336).
Any historian analysing a historical novel is bound to appear a little pedantic, taking a spade to the proverbial soufflé, but here goes.