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Calm Violence: Enlightenment, Refinement and the Duel in 18th Century Scotland


Date: Friday 21 June 2013
Time: 1.00-2.00pm.
Venue: Napier 209 The University of Adelaide
Keynote: Rosalind Carr, The University of East London
Light refreshments will be provided

A relatively rare but significant cultural practice among elite men, duelling provides an insight into the impact of Enlightenment discourse on lived experience. This paper will explore divergent attitudes towards duelling in Scottish Enlightenment thought, and examine the duel’s place within polite culture in eighteenth-century Scotland. The calm and composed ritual of the duel enabled this specific expression of violence to operate within the boundaries of male refinement. Violence is often associated with anger and a loss of self-control, but the rituals of the duel were intended to militate against this. Male duellists were not always calm, however, and the emotions expressed during a duel were paramount in determining whether the practice was seen to blend honour and refinement or symbolise incivility.

Rosalind Carr is a Lecturer in History at the University of East London. She has published articles on women and early modern Scottish political history, and on Scottish masculinities, and is the author of Gender and Enlightenment Culture in Eighteenth-Century Scotland (forthcoming Edinburgh UP, Dec 2013.) She is currently a Visiting Fellow at The University of Sydney.

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