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Inaugural Lecture: Laura Gowing

Anatomy Lecture Theatre (K.6.29) Strand Campus
09/05/2016 (18:00-19:00)

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A Trade of One's Own: Freedoms for Women in 17th Century London 


This lecture is about the changing world of women in late 17th century London. Within the walls of the city, the 'freedom of the city' that was usually obtained by apprenticeship or patrimonial right gave citizens the right to trade, as well as to participate in government. After the civil war, small numbers of women began both to train as apprentices and to take up the freedom. But their options remained strictly curtailed. Becoming an apprentice and claiming the right to be free engaged women with some fundamental mechanisms of institutional inclusion and exclusion. From filling in forms meant for men, to petitioning for the right to trade in 'a little chandler's shop', this lecture traces the routes women took to practise trades of their own, past the obstacles of both remembered custom and modern bureaucracy. In the process, it considers the changing meaning of 'woman' in a city where the public sphere was increasingly defined as masculine.


LauraGowingLaura Gowing is Professor of Early Modern History in the Department of History at King's College London. She joined the college in 2002 after posts at Hertfordshire and Essex. She has published books and articles on women, law, and the body in early modern England, including Common Bodies: Women, Touch and Power in seventeenth-century England (2003)  and Gender Relations in Early Modern England (2012). She is also an editor of History Workshop Journal. 






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