Stephen Bending (University of Southampton) will be presenting his paper, ‘Retirement and Disgrace: Women and Gardens in the Eighteenth Century’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 29 October 2013. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 0.31.
Traditional accounts of women in eighteenth-century gardens tend to emphasise flower gardens, piety and domestic retirement, but alongside this we should recognise an equally powerful image of women and gardens articulated in terms of sex, voyeurism, scandal and disgrace. This paper begins by outlining some of those conventional—and frequently male—accounts which align the garden with femininity, piety, and domesticity, but then turns to some less comfortable alternatives in order to explore what happens when women—rather than men—imagine themselves in the garden, how they engage with double standards, female desire, and the recognition that if the garden is a place of pleasure, it can also be a place of punishment and shame.
About the speaker
Dr Stephen Bending is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Southampton. He has written numerous articles on eighteenth-century landscape (most recently on women, loneliness and depression); he is editor of the Enlightenment volume of the Berg Cultural History of Gardens (2013), and (with Stephen Bygrave) series editor of the Pickering and Chatto Chawton House Library Series of women’s novels, travels and memoirs. His book, Green Retreat: Women, Gardens and Eighteenth-Century Culture was published by Cambridge in June 2013, and he is currently developing a new project on the public and private experience of gardens in England, France and North America.