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Workshop, 2pm-6pm, Friday 7 February, R1.13, Ramphal Building at the University of Warwick.

NB. for University of Warwick participants only.

The event is being led by the Early Modern and Eighteenth Century Centre.



2:00 -2:10

Opening remarks, announcements


Mark Knights

Scandal and Corruption


Callie Wilkinson

Scandal, secrecy, and the history of the nineteenth-century British Empire


Quianwen Qing

Political Scandals in Colonial Caribbean


Natalie Hanley-Smith

The 'amorous' career of Lady Anne Hatton: the development of a society scandal, 1793-1800


Coffee, Tea



Naomi Pullin

Corruption in the Quaker Community


Hannah Straw

The wicked and scandalous life led by George, Duke of Buckingham, with Anna Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury'


Kate Astbury

Defining 'scandal' in eighteenth-century France


Charles Walton

Scandal: A reason for press freedom? The case of late eighteenth-century France





Scandal is a theme that cuts across several disciplines, from literary and media studies to sociology and history. How scandals have altered society and politics and the ways in which they have become cultural obsessions have changed over time. Several historians have pointed to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as a crucial moment when scandals – especially sexual scandals – came to have a politically transformative impact. With the growth of a public sphere during the Enlightenment, private lives came under more intense public scrutiny, and public outrage fed demands for greater transparency, accountability and even democracy. (See for example Anna Clark’s Scandal: The Sexual Politics of the British Constitution and Sarah Maza’s Private Lives and Public Affairs).

This workshop explores some of the claims and assumptions surrounding the history of scandal. How do scandals that are not sexual in nature compare to those that are? Have financial and corruption scandals had a weaker grip on collective imaginations than sexual ones? Are they more or less politically transformative? Is the mid-eighteenth century a turning point for the history of scandals, or can similar claims be made about the scandals of earlier periods of the early modern era? And how do early-modern scandals resemble or differ from those of the modern period?

This workshop will explore the problem of ‘scandal’ conceived broadly. Contributions can vary – from short papers (10 minutes) to a primary source worth discussing. Each contribution will involve 20 minutes of presentation and discussion. The emphasis will be on discussion and identifying conceptual problems and comparisons that will be useful for all participants.