Saturday 9th February 2019
Keynote Speakers: Dr Daisy Hay (Exeter) and Dr Sally Holloway (Oxford Brookes)
The history of love is a multidisciplinary topic, and this conference aims to bring together scholars from a variety of fields, including literature, gender and queer studies, history – and its subdiscipline of art.
‘Love’ is an abstract term that has fascinated generations. Its joys and perils have been a prominent feature in contemporary culture for centuries. Although it is rarely the focus of research (unlike sex), love features frequently in cultural historiographies of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In recent years the development of the history of emotions has resulted in an increase of scholarly interest regarding love and emotions as they were experienced by those in romantic relationships. It is over this period, we are told, that the concept of love was redefined; over the course of the Enlightenment the notion of individualism developed, and the individual’s right to personal happiness was asserted, thus love and affection were represented as the necessary foundations for a happy marital relationship. Exactly how quickly, and the extent to which these ideals disseminated in contemporary culture varied according to status group; it is clear that they formed an intrinsic part of the developing middle-class identity from the beginning, whilst elite practices supposedly retained their traditional forms for much longer. Examining the roles love and intimacy played in interpersonal relationships is crucial to understand how power relations were negotiated between the sexes, and often reveals gender relations to have been far more complex in practice than they appeared.
This is a one day multidisciplinary conference organised by Natalie Hanley-Smith, PhD candidate and HRC Doctoral Fellow 2018-2019.