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Noble Women and the Public Sphere in Late Eighteenth-Century England and France

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Two scandals, The Diamond Necklace Affair of 1784-1786 and the Westminster Elections of 1784, offer significant perspectives of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, and Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, noble

Two scandals, The Diamond Necklace Affair of 1784-1786 and the Westminster Elections of 1784, offer significant perspectives of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, and Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, noble women who violated the expectations of their positions as members of the French and English aristocracy. During the Diamond Necklace Affair, a countess attempted to steal a valuable necklace and used Marie as a tool, effectively ruining her reputation through association and allowing the public to criticize Marie for her past actions. Georgiana's reputation was similarly besmirched during the Westminster Elections of 1784 after she engaged openly in politics through canvassing the streets and was accused of bribing voters with kisses. Both beautiful, fashionable, vibrant women who married young, had some degree of difficulty conceiving heirs, and were accused of adultery, Marie and Georgiana are excellent examples of French and English noble women who can be analyzed side-by-side. This project focuses on perceptions of these similar women (how those close to them perceived them, how they wanted to be perceived, and finally how the public perceived them) during these controversies in order to examine the roles women were expected to play in French and English high society in the late eighteenth-century. Through memoirs, letters, verses, portraits, and political cartoons, the sources discussed become gradually more public. Within each stage of analysis, it becomes clear that these women had conflicting private and public self interests, they sought to self-fashion more socially acceptable public images, and their nobility made them subject to public criticism that reached into the private sphere. This research thus argues that noble women were exposed to exceptional notoriety which blurred the lines between the private and public spheres. Additionally, it discusses the high price noble women paid for transgressing social norms and offers an equation between noble women and immorality as a possible reason for the rise of domesticity in the nineteenth-century.

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Date Created
  • 2016-05

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Ornamentation In eighteenth-century guitar music: an examination of instruction manuals from 1750-1800

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Profound alterations to instruments that take place over short periods of time are fascinating, and the changes undergone by the guitar during the late eighteenth century make for an intriguing

Profound alterations to instruments that take place over short periods of time are fascinating, and the changes undergone by the guitar during the late eighteenth century make for an intriguing transition in the instrument's history. The guitar that existed before 1750 is most commonly referred to as the 'Baroque guitar' and is vastly different from the guitar of today. It was considerably smaller than the guitars that followed, pitched higher, and used primarily for accompaniment through chord strumming. From roughly 1750 to 1800 the guitar underwent a transformation that eventually led to the design and performance practices that have continued through to this day; larger, with lower-pitched courses (and sometimes single stringing), and used increasingly more in punteado (plucked) style. By defining the instrument as it existed prior to 1750, and the changes that it underwent after 1750, we can ensure that the instrument discussed is the one that has directly led to the instrument we use today. Because instrument design and performance practice inevitably influence each other, a thorough examination of ornamentation practices from 1750-1800 can lead to a greater understanding of the instrument as it changed, and the instrument it eventually turned into. Since the early nineteenth century was one of the more productive time periods for the guitar, having a better understanding of the ornamentation performance practices that preceded it may provide insight to how the players and composers of this fertile time (Sor, Aguado, Giuliani, etc.) approached their instrument. Although there was not much music printed or copied for guitar during the latter half of the eighteenth century, a substantial number of guitars were built, along with instruction manuals featuring the guitar. Instruction manuals were examined, along with works for solo guitar and guitar in ensemble with other instruments, to explore ornamentation practices from 1750-1800. Through examination of the guitar instruction manuals of the late eighteenth century, an increased understanding is gained regarding the techniques that eventually became cornerstones of nineteenth-century guitar performance practice.

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Date Created
  • 2012