You are warmly invited to join us for the Eighteenth Lewis Walpole Library Lecture on Friday, 21 October 2011 at 5:30 p.m.
Amanda Vickery, Professor of Early Modern History, Queen Mary College, University of London will present “Family Life Makes Tories of Us All: Love and Power at Home in Georgian England”
Yale Center for British Art Lecture Hall
1080 Chapel Street
To see the state in miniature one need only go home. Husbands were to govern wives, masters and mistresses to rule servants, and parents to discipline children. The years after 1688 saw the acceptance of new ideas about political authority and social manners, but the household hierarchy endured regardless. Notoriously Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau did not include every adult individual in their democracy of consent, but rather every male head of household, who was seen to represent the interests of his patriarchal entourage. The British considered themselves enemies to tyranny, disparaging and caricaturing ‘oriental despotism’ in foreign families as confirmation of barbarity, but local servitude passed almost unnoticed by political ideas. I have yet to encounter a single gentleman musing on whether it might be possible to reconsider his domestic rule in the light of the new political ideas. ‘Family life’, it was observed in 1779, ‘makes Tories of us all… see if any Whig wishes to see the beautiful Utopian expansion of power within his own walls’.
The new political ideas which advocated government by consent did nothing to revolutionize the structures of domestic authority, but the content and meaning of domestic life was transformed over the eighteenth century.
New ideals of politeness revolutionized domestic manners and interactions amongst the modestly propertied, while the vogue for sensibility in novels and paintings inflated expectations about affection and happiness at home. What then was the balance of love and power in eighteenth-century marriage and family life? And how did dependents live with the contradictions? 'Do you not admire these lovers of liberty!’ snapped Elizabeth Montagu in 1765 ‘I am not sure that Cato did not kick his wife.'
Amanda Vickery is Professor of Early Modern History at Queen Mary College, University of London. She is the author of Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England (Yale, 2009) and The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Georgian England (Yale, 1998) which won the Wolfson, the Whitfield and the Longman/History Today prize. She is the editor of Women, Privilege and Power: British Politics 1750 to the Present (Stanford, 1991) and Gender, Taste and Material Culture in Britain and North America (Yale, 2006). She writes and presents documentaries for BBC2 and BBC radio 4. In 2011, she judged the Samuel Johnson prize.
The Lecture is Free and Open to the Public.
For more information: http://www.library.yale.edu/walpole/programs/annual_lecture.html