Sally Holloway, ‘Food, Family & Feeling: Edible Gifts and the Making of Marriage in Georgian England’ (11 mai)

Jeudi 11 mai à 17h (Serpente, salle D421)

Sally Holloway, ‘Food, Family & Feeling: Edible Gifts and the Making of Marriage in Georgian England’

It is well established that the navigation of courtship in Georgian England was shaped by a range of romantic gifts including ribbons, rings, garters, gloves, and portrait miniatures, which helped to generate feelings of love and shepherd courting couples toward the altar. Yet these were not the only items which couples had at their disposal: in Jane Austen’s Emma (1815), it is the humble walnut which enables the farmer Robert Martin to express his admiration for the heroine’s protégée Harriet Smith, while in Pride & Prejudice (1813) it is the beautiful pyramids of hothouse fruits and hospitality at Pemberley which first lead Elizabeth Bennet to realise her love for Mr Darcy. Such edible offerings are largely absent from scholarship on courtship in Georgian England, though they were likely among the most common material objects routinely exchanged by and shared between couples.

This paper sets out how courting couples orchestrated their relationships using a breath of edible gifts from cakes and sweetmeats to apricots, peaches, pineapples, melons, duck, pork, venison, turbot, oysters, and sturgeon. These sweet treats, fruits, meats, and fish could variously be deployed as a means of flirtation, to gauge early romantic interest, underscore the status and generosity of the giver, show investment in the bodily health of the recipient as a future spouse, and bind two families together before matrimony. Together, they add a crucial dimension to our understanding of the widely recognised ‘gift mode’ during courtship, illuminate the mechanics of courtship as rooted in family homes and gardens, and the new spaces of the metropolitan public sphere, and demonstrate how natural or perishable items such as food could operate as powerful vehicles for emotional meaning.

Dr Sally Holloway is a Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow in History and History of Art at Oxford Brookes University. She specialises in histories of emotions, gender, and visual and material culture in Britain over the long eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She is the co-editor of Feeling Things: Objects and Emotions through History (Oxford, 2018), and the author of The Game of Love in Georgian England: Courtship, Emotions and Material Culture (Oxford, 2019) which has recently been released in paperback (2022). 

Gregory Claeys : ‘Utopianism for a Dying Planet: Life After Consumerism’ (20 avril)

Jeudi 20 avril à 17h (Serpente, salle D421)

Gregory Claeys (Royal Holloway, University of London) – Utopianism for a Dying Planet: Life After Consumerism


Few can have missed the fact that humanity is facing the greatest crisis in the earth’s history. With global warming currently at 1.25°C, but headed towards 3C or more, the threat of cataclysm is more real than ever. This talk argues that notional targets of 1.5C-2C are inadequate, and that warming must be kept below 1C. In order to achieve this, a variety of measures, commencing with the immediate renunciation of carbon fuels, but extending to a severe dampening of consumer demand and consumerism as such, must be implemented. The utopian tradition fruitfully provides a range of suggestions as to how to achieve this goal.


Gregory Claeys is Professor Emeritus at the University of London. His eleven books, which have been translated into nine languages, include Machinery, Money and the Millennium: From Moral Economy to Socialism (Princeton University Press, 1987); Citizens and Saints: Politics and Anti-Politics in Early British Socialism (Cambridge University Press, 1989); Thomas Paine: Social and Political Thought (Unwin Hyman, 1989), Searching for Utopia: the History of an Idea (Thames & Hudson, 2011), Mill and Paternalism (Cambridge University Press, 2013); Dystopia: A Natural History (Oxford University Press, 2016); Marx and Marxism (Penguin Books, 2018), Utopianism for a Dying Planet: Life After Consumerism (Princeton University Press, 2022); and John Stuart Mill: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2022). He has edited The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2010; Turkish edn., 2017) and over forty volumes of primary sources, including Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man (Hackett, 1992). He is editor-in-chief of a new collection of Paine’s collected writings in six volumes (2026, forthcoming), and Chair of the Utopian Studies Society (Europe