Birkbeck 18th Century Group – Autumn Term 2016 Events

Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group, Autumn 2016

Tuesday 29 November,


Keynes Library

Dr Kate Tunstall (Worcester College, Oxford) ‘Magots and Pagodes: The Politics and Aesthetics of Luxury in Eighteenth-Century France’

Chaired by Dr Ann Lewis

[link to illustration:]

Abstract: In this paper, which is part of a larger project on Diderot’s materialisms, I focus on Diderot’s various writings on luxury and, in particular, on the numerous and rather remarkable references he makes to magots and pagodes, objects of chinoiserie, one of which can be seen, for instance, in Boucher’s Woman on a daybed (Frick, 1743).

Bio: Kate Tunstall is University Lecturer in French at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Worcester College. She is the author of Blindness and Enlightenment (2011); she edited Self-Evident Truths? Human Rights and the Enlightenment (2012); she and Caroline Warman translated Diderot’s Le Neveu de Rameau together for the open access multimedia edition, which won the 2014 British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Prize for Best Digital Resource. Most recently, her and Katie Scott’s new edition and translation of Diderot’s Regrets sur ma vieille robe de chambre appeared in the Oxford Art Journal.

Birkbeck 18C Reading Group:

Wednesday 7 December

12.00-2.00, Keynes Library

Dr Katharina Boehme (Regensburg) will introduce Vetusta Monumenta (1747) and selections from Stukeley’s Itinerarium Curiosum (1724).

The session will consider three plates reproduced in Vetusta Monumenta, published by the Society of Antiquaries in 1747 in the first of seven volumes of large-scale, highly-finished copper-plate engravings of many different kinds of antiquities, printed between 1747 and 1906. The reading will consist of excerpts and illustrations from two works by William Stukeley (1687-1765). Stukeley was a leading figure in antiquarian debates in the first half of the eighteenth century and the Society of Antiquary’s first secretary. The publication of Itinerarium Curiosum (1724) marked the rise of the ‘domestic tour’ – a compound of travelogue, chorography and guidebook. Stonehenge: A Temple Restor’d to the Druids (1740) presents the results of Stukeley’s fieldwork at Stonehenge and suggests that Stonehenge had been erected as a place of worship by ancient British druids.

Katharina Boehm is Assistant Professor in English Literature at the University of Regensburg. Her main research interests are in British literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and in the history of science. Her first monograph, Charles Dickens and the Sciences of Childhood: Popular Medicine, Child Health and Victorian Culture (Palgrave Macmillan) was published in 2013. Her current project explores antiquarian cultures of the long eighteenth century and their impact on the novel and other contemporary prose genres such as the domestic tour and the historical romance. She is currently co-editing an annotated digital edition of the antiquarian plate book Vetusta Monumenta and a special issue of Word & Image entitled “Mediating the Materiality of the Past, 1700-1930”.

Contact Luisa Calè for the readings (


. . Category: Archived Events, Archived Reading Groups . Tags: , , , , , , ,

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,

. . Category: Archived Events . Tags: ,