Women’s Spaces, Pleasure, and Desire in the Belle Époque

Imade of woman reclining on chaise longue in Twenties dress

Even as women asserted their presence in universities and new department stores proliferated to cater to their desires, at the turn of the century many still imagined feminine space in traditional archetypes: the tranquility of the home, or the exoticism of the harem. To speak of women’s spaces during the Belle Époque, then, calls forth a host of simultaneous possibilities, ranging from the archaic to the shockingly modern, from the sensual to the cerebral. Across both public and private contexts, this conference seeks to examine the relationships between women, space, pleasure, and desire. Presentations will explore how different forms of women’s space competed and co-existed around the world at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, and how these represented, structured or suppressed women’s experiences of desire and pleasure. 

The first day of the conference will be followed by a concert at the Holywell Music Room, open to a public audience, and a dinner for registered participants. 

Please see below for the conference programme (Word):


Generously supported by TORCH, St Hilda's College, Women in the Humanities and the Queer Studies Network.

Organisers: Dr Rhiannon Easterbrook (Women in the Humanities Postdoctoral Writing Fellow), Ms Mara Gold (DPhil candidate in Classics), Ms Sasha Rasmussen (DPhil candidate in History).

Register for the conference via this link.

For enquiries, please contact Dr Rhiannon Easterbrook (rhiannon.easterbrook@humanities.ox.ac.uk).

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