Join us for a very special session featuring our Women’s History Network Early Career Research Fellows! Our ECR Fellows will be sharing their work on a diverse and fascinating range of topics from the history of women’s masturbation to the policing of girls in Welsh workhouses. Sign-up now!
Wednesday, 5 April 2023, 4pm BST
Sign up on Zoom here.
Early Career Research Fellows Roundtable Celebration
Elizabeth Schlappa, ‘Taking Matters Into Her Own Hands: Women and Masturbation in Eighteenth-Century England’
Medical writers and practitioners in eighteenth-century England were no enemies to women’s sexual pleasure. Yet self-pleasure – or, as the Georgians would have had it, self-pollution – provoked dire warnings about its moral depravity and potentially fatal effects on the body. Although the rise of this medico-moral obsession coincided with major cultural shifts in beliefs about female nature, women have traditionally been peripheral to scholarship on the anti-masturbation campaign. This paper will explore eighteenth-century medical attitudes to female masturbation, their relationship to women’s history, and their significance for our thinking about female sexuality.
Elizabeth Schlappa is an associate lecturer in history at Newcastle University, where she received her PhD in 2022. Her research interests lie in the intersection of gender, sexuality, and medicine during the long eighteenth century. She has previously published in Gender & History and has an article forthcoming with Journal of the History of Sexuality. She is currently completing a book based on her doctoral research, which explores the gender history of female masturbation and women’s pleasure in eighteenth-century medical literature.
Claire Phillips, ‘Girls in Welsh Workhouses, 1880-1920: A Case of Morality?’
This paper aims to discuss the reasons why girls were admitted to the various workhouses in the South of Wales during the period 1880-1920, and how Board of Guardians attempted to ensure the morality of these girls was protected. Girls in workhouses were thought to be at particular risk of corruption by older women of questionable morality. However, in South Wales, Boards of Guardians put children into Cottage Homes, giving girls a family, rather than institutional, setting which would provide training in domestic work, thus allowing them to become moral characters who would not become a burden on the Poor Law as adults.
Claire Phillips received her PhD from the University of Leeds in 2017. She has published widely on the London Foundling Hospital, with articles in Genealogy and Childhood in the Past, and has two articles forthcoming in Family & Community History and the Journal for the History of Childhood and Youth. With the support of a WHN ECR Fellowship, she is currently beginning a project on children in Welsh Workhouses, 1880-1920, with a focus on the morality of girls, and their preparation for life.
Sasha Rasmussen, ‘Material Girls: Why Study Gender and Sensation?‘
In this paper, I will provide a brief introduction to the field of sensory history and outline why historians should include gender as an important determinant of sensory experience. Not only did gendered expectations and norms shape the kinds of sensations people of the past encountered, but reciprocally, I argue that sensations contributed to the construction of gendered identities. My research on women’s interactions with the sensory landscapes of the early twentieth-century city examines the confluence of rapid technological change and shifting attitudes towards femininity, revealing how women were encouraged to conceive of themselves as sensory subjects and to delight in their own embodiment.
Sasha Rasmussen completed her DPhil at the University of Oxford in 2021, with a thesis entitled Feminine Feelings: Women and Sensation in Paris and St Petersburg, 1900-1913, and is currently working on her first monograph. In 2022, she was a History Innovation Fund Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. More broadly, her research interests include urban history, intimacy, sexuality, music and dance.