Birkbeck 18th Century Group – Summer 2016 Events

Public lecture:

Professor Melissa Percival, Artful Monkeys: The ‘Singeries’ of Marivaux
Tuesday 10 May, 6pm (30 Russell Square, Room 101)

Unashamedly ‘moderne’, Marivaux’s writing displays a heightened awareness of the practices of imitation. A complex yet coherent thematics of ‘singe’ and ‘singerie’ can be found in his theatre, journalism and fiction. In Marivaux’s universe Arlequin, that most simian of creatures, paradoxically embodies a powerful humanity. Singerie can be an exaggerated physical display of contorsion and grimace; but it is also a social practice, a frequently pernicious form of ingratiation. Equally it pertains to the author’s own vanities and machinations. In addition to Marivaux’s writings, this paper will make reference to Alfredo Arias’s controversial ‘monkey’ production of Le Jeu de l’amour et du hasard (1986) and to the painted singeries of Marivaux’s contemporaries Watteau, Audran and Huet

Melissa Percival is Associate Professor in French, Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Exeter.

All are very welcome!

For further information, please contact: Ann Lewis,

Reading Group:

Through the Microscope: Literature, Science, and Pornography

Tuesday 7 June 6.00-9.00 (30 Russell Sq, room 101)

Core Reading: ‘The Microscope’, Female Inconstancy Display’d in three Diverting Histories (1732), pp. 41-43. Text available on request.

Introduced by Tita Chico (University of Maryland), with responses From Katy Barrett (Royal Museums Greenwich), and Richard Dunn (Royal Museums Greenwich)

Tita Chico is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Maryland. She is currently working on Experimentalism: Literary Knowledge and Science in Eighteenth-Century Britain, a study of literary celebrations of and alternatives to the epistemology of experimental philosophy. She is the author of Designing Women: The Dressing Room in Eighteenth-Century English Literature and Culture (2005), co-editor of Atlantic Worlds in the Long Eighteenth Century: Seduction and Sentiment (2012), and editor of The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, a University of Pennsylvania Press quarterly.

Katy Barrett is Curator o f pre-1800 Art, at Royal Museums Greenwich, a founder of the Things seminar at CRASSH in Cambridge, where she was part of the Board of Longitude Project, working on its cultural history through the lens of William Hogarth, on which she has published a Look First feature entitled ‘Looking for the Longitude’.

Richard Dunn
is Senior Curator for the History of Science at Royal Museums Greenwich. He was co-curator of ‘Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude’, a major international touring exhibition shown at the National Maritime Museum in 2014 and now at the Australian National Maritime Museum. Between 2010 and 2015 he worked on the history of the Board of Longitude in collaboration with the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge ( His publications include The Telescope: A Short History (2009) and Finding Longitude (2014, with Rebekah Higgitt).

For further information, please contact: Luisa Calè,