Call for Papers: Women, land and the making of the British Landscape, 1300-1900

RHN 1/2015 | Call

Organised by Dr. Briony McDonagh (Dept of Geography, University of Hull) and Dr. Amanda Capern (Dept of History, University of Hull)

29-30 June 2015, University of Hull, UK

Deadline: 31 January 2015

Call for Papers:
Women, land and the making of the British Landscape, 1300-1900

This two-day interdisciplinary conference seeks to bring together historians, geographers, archaeologists, legal scholars, art historians and literary scholars to reflect on women’s contribution to the making of the British landscape over the six centuries between c. 1300 and c. 1900. Recent work by historians has done much to expand our understanding of women’s relations with property of all kinds, particularly in the early modern and Georgian eras. This has included important work on the ways legal doctrines and devices like primogeniture, coverture and strict settlement impacted on the ownership of land by women from across the social hierarchy. Yet we know comparatively little about women’s day-to-day involvement in managing, improving and transmitting land, or about the ways landownership and landholding – whether the property in question was a large landed estate or tiny cottage – provided opportunities for women to shape the landscape around them. More generally, histories and geographies of the British landscape have too often written both elite and more ordinary women out of the story, focusing on the contribution of male landowners, farmers and innovators, but saying little about the involvement of their mothers, wives and daughters.

The conference aims to redress this gap in the literature, asking a series of important questions about the relationships between women, land and landscape over the long durée. Possible themes include (but are not limited to):

  • Women’s landholding and landownership across the medieval, early modern and modern period.
  • Women and farming throughout the period 1300-1900 and including both peasant/smallholder agriculture and farming on large landed estates.
  • Women as landowners, builders, gardeners and patrons.
  • Women’s contribution to other spheres of activity, particularly those with the potential to dramatically reshape the landscape (for example mining, silviculture and urban development).
  • Women’s legal rights, including the legal dimensions of property ownership and transmission.
  • Women’s experiences of landownership and/or landlessness.
  • Land, life-cycle and the family.
  • Gendered experiences of space, place, land, landscape and memory.
  • Work and leisure in the landscape.
  • Women’s intellectual and emotional responses to land and landscape (as represented in archival sources, art, literature etc).
  • Reflections on the sources and methodologies available to those researching women, land and landscape in medieval, early modern and modern Britain.

Contributors may address these themes in rural or urban contexts in any period from the high medieval to c. 1900 and in any region of England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland. Comparative papers exploring women’s experience in Britain and Ireland in relation to other places would also be welcomed. Please send titles and abstracts (of up to 400 words) to Briony McDonagh ( 31 January 2015, along with details of any special audio-visual or mobility requirements.

Twitter: @women_and_land