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Salons, Baths, and Spas: Spaces of Sociability and Feeling in the Eighteenth Century

salons long

Date: Friday 7 June 2013
Time: 1.00-2.00pm.
Venue: Napier Building 210, The University of Adelaide
Speaker: Katrina O'Laughlin

Light refreshments will be provided

Space would certainly seem to have emotional energies: in the eighteenth century, certain spaces were alive with affective power. Landscape, gardens, grottos, ruins, all have a special emotional resonance for the Romantics. But other spaces also display emotional significance in the writing and art of the long eighteenth century. Public spaces like theatres, the court, coffeehouses, assembly halls, galleries and salons are sites of new social and emotional intensities, and private spaces like the cabinet, closet and bedchamber feature in the emotional imaginary of poetry and the novel.

This paper considers a series of spaces with special significance for women in the eighteenth century: the literary salon, the spa town, and the hamman or Turkish baths, a site of acute cultural interest from the early modern period. I explore how these spaces are connected – often controversially - as sites of new forms of intellectual sociability and pleasure for women, and how they are represented by women in letters, travel writing and fiction. How do such places work to scaffold emotional expression and exchange among people? How might these spaces reflect or produce specific emotional practices? Do material properties such as light, volume, and the arrangement of people and objects in space have emotional affects? And how might studying ‘space’ in this way contribute to the project of a ‘history of emotions’?

Katrina O’Loughlin completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2009, and is currently a Research Associate at the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions at The University of Western Australia. In the intervening period she was a Visiting Scholar at the Chawton House Library
and the University of Southampton, and a visiting Research Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre, the ANU. Her research focuses on writing, gender, cultural identity and difference, and she has published on eighteenth and nineteenth-century travel, writing, and subjectivity. Her current work investigates travel and intellectual sociability, or the social, literary and emotional networks connecting Britain with the ‘world’ in the long 18th century.

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For more information contact Janet Hart (+61 08 8313 2421)