Sally Newmann, ‘Bizarre Love Triangle—Tracing Power and Pedagogy in the Letters of John Addington Symonds, A. Mary F. Robinson and Vernon Lee’ (1878-1900)
Thursday 7 June, 6pm
University of Melbourne, Old Quad Common Room (enter via gate 10 on Grattan St., continue up the steps and past South lawn, head to first floor via door/stairs on the west side of the inner quad)
This paper reflects on the challenges arising during the editing of the literary correspondence between poet A. Mary F. Robinson, her companion the female intellectual Vernon Lee (Violet Paget), and British Hellenist, John Addington Symonds. The letters written from Davos, London, Florence and Paris reveal the unpredictable ways through which desire finds expression. While Symonds was Mary Robinson’s mentor in her study of Greek Language and Literature, Symonds and Vernon Lee were intellectual rivals. I trace the ways in which an eroticised pedagogical relation structured the triangular dynamic between Symonds, Lee and Robinson, and suggest that this provides a new conceptual frame for thinking beyond binary categories of identity in this period.
Sally Newman is a research fellow at Monash University. Her research is in the history of sexualities and emotions with a focus on the ways in which the archive is deployed to provide ‘evidence’ of desire, sex, love, relationships and/or identity. Sally’s recently awarded PhD, ‘Traces of Desire: Reading the Lesbian Archive’, was jointly awarded the Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Inaugural PhD prize in 2010. Her book, The intimate archive: Journeys through private papers (co-authored with Maryanne Dever and Ann Vickery), was published in 2009 and articles have appeared in Journal of the History of Sexuality, Women’s History Review and Australian Feminist Studies. In 2010-11, Sally held a British Academy Visiting Scholarship at King’s College London.
All welcome! There will be information dinner at a local restaurant following the seminar. If you would like to join us, please RSVP by Monday 4 June to Nell Musgrove: firstname.lastname@example.org
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