Thursday September 8 saw our workshop Women and Education in the Long Eighteenth Century (WELEC) at the Glasgow Women’s Library. Postgraduates, early career researchers, invited speakers, and the general public came together to explore women’s contributions, influence, and experience of education in the long eighteenth century. The idea for a workshop on this topic began when we realized that while we knew women were educated and contributed to education in the eighteenth century, and that the arts formed a key component of the education they received, we didn’t know much else, and what we knew tended to come from Lady Novelists, films, or conduct books. In bringing together interested parties at various stages of their careers, we hoped we could make a start on fixing that gap in our knowledge, and pursue further opportunities for a research network.
We succeeded far beyond our expectations. Sixty people who had travelled from as far as Russia, China, and all across Britain were in attendance. Throughout the day, eight 10-minute papers chosen out of over 50 submitted abstracts, four 20-minute papers given by our invited speakers, a roundtable, and a lunchtime concert were delivered. We were thrilled to see that most in attendance left wanting more. This was equally seen in our feedback where every participant said that they would be interested in attending a much larger event that examined this subject area. Papers ranged from early translations of Arthurian romances, Catholic education, the role of dance in women’s education, to young ladies’ music tuition and interests, reading habits, and sewing schools. The lunchtime concert, an idea of the staff at the Glasgow Women’s Library, featured music written by or for women in the eighteenth century.
We received an overwhelming number of positive comments including:
‘The music was fantastic and very well timed. Excellent balance of papers and chatting over coffee time. Thank you!’
‘Really liked the combination of 20 min and 10 min sessions – concert in the middle of the day was an excellent choice.’
‘Good workshop! Enlarge sessions into productions and journals.’
And our Twitter almost exploded during the lunchtime concert, as participants took the opportunity to live Tweet using our dedicated hashtag #WELEC2016
We are delighted by these positive responses and are pleased to announce that out of this workshop a selection of the papers presented will comprise a special issue of the journal Women’s History in Spring 2018. We will also be uploading a trailer and podcast of the event to our website in the coming weeks.
We extend our thanks to the Glasgow Women’s Library, the Royal Music Association, the British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, the University of Glasgow New Initiatives Fund, and the University of Glasgow Collaborative Research Award, as well as Mark Towsey, Katrina Faulds, Penelope Cave, Kirsteen McCue, Andrew Bull, David McGuinness, Allan Wright, Yilei Yuan, and Harry Campbell, without whom the day would have been impossible. The success of the day means we are, without doubt, pursuing further funding opportunities for WELEC to continue.