About this course

In recent years, television and film adaptations of the novels of Jane Austen and her contemporaries have crossed our screens. They have fed a popular and academic fascination with eighteenth-century women's history. This course, aimed at both specialists and newcomers alike, looks beyond heaving bosoms and tinkling teacups to the realities of eighteenth-century women's lives, their contributions to culture and their place in society. By examining women's participation in both public and private spheres - through topics such as education, marriage and family life; work, poverty, criminality and philanthropy; politics and religion; and consumerism, art and culture - the course seeks to integrate women into eighteenth-century history. We will listen to the voices of ordinary and exceptional women, to draw out a picture of a vibrant and dynamic society in which they were constrained by literary prescription, custom and law, and yet sought out new avenues for involvement and, by the end of the century, feminist advance.

The study trip takes us to Dyrham Park, a spectacular William and Mary mansion with formal gardens, or to the magnificent stately family home, Bowood House.


Check with your home institution for specific information on fulfillment of major / course requirements.