Women in the World: Shaping Identity Through Objects and Space

deadline for submissions: 
May 21, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
East-Central/American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

In texts representing women and their lives, the physical spaces and items a woman has access to or desires, are often indicative of her social position, emotions, and/or psychological state. In the well-known example of Samuel Richardson’s Pamela for instance, owning and being able to wear her mistress’ clothes is an indication that Pamela is socially higher than the other servants in the household. Her access to these clothes is also read (by those around her) as a sign that she is morally compromised; she in turn sees this access as part of her suffering.  The clothes, therefore, function as a sign of the complexity of her social identity, position in the home, and of social norms and standards.  This panel seeks to explore moments in texts of the long eighteenth-century that center on material objects and physical spaces. Possible questions of interest for this panel include: What can we glean about the formation of a woman’s identity from her interaction with the material world? What do regulations and practices around the objects and spaces used by women reveal about their place in society? How are objects—those designated for a woman’s use and those prohibited—used to control and shape women’s identities? Do the representations and placement of objects in the texts problematize definitions of the domestic space? How are objects and spaces used by women to challenge the limitations placed on them?  Through such questions, we will analyze the tensions between any aspect of a woman’s identity—ie. race, class, gender, spirituality—and the use and appropriation of material objects by women. Please send 250-word abstracts to Andrea Fabrizio (afabrizio@hostos.cuny.edu) and to Ruth Garcia (RGarcia@citytech.cuny.edu).