Dr Tessa Whitehouse (Queen Mary) will speak at the Seminar for Dissenting Studies on ‘Family, Memory and Materiality in Nonconformist Life-Writings of the Long Eighteenth Century’, Wednesday 11 June 2014, 5.15-6.45pm, Dr Williams’s Library, 14 Gordon Square, London.
All are welcome to attend. Tessa’s abstract is below, and further information about the seminar series can be found at:
Life writing encompasses a diversity of purposes, forms and repositories, making it a challenging subject for literary historians of religion. For religious dissenters, collective and individual records were crucial to sustaining their traditions and understanding their place in national history. This paper will pursue two related questions: why was biography so important for dissenters in the eighteenth century, and what was the role of women in the production of nonconformist culture? It will do so by investigating the material circumstances of production, preservation and dissemination of life writings as well as their form and content. It will concentrate on the activities of Mercy Doddridge and Jane Attwater and the exemplary memory of Elizabeth Rowe for dissenting women writers, asking how an author’s confessional identity might find its way into the structure and content of her writing, and with what literary effect. The relationship between the archival practices of familial and religious communities over time and individuals’ writings will also be a central aspect of this paper.