The Library and the University of Southampton


Chawton House Library has established close academic links with the University of Southampton. The University has considerable strengths in the fields of women's writing, history, and the visual and material culture of the long eighteenth century. Professor Cora Kaplan, an internationally recognized scholar in the field of late 18th century women's writing, joined trustee Professor Isobel Grundy in providing overall strategic, mentoring, and intellectual guidance to the project. The first Postdoctoral Research Fellowship was held by Dr Jennie Batchelor, who, funded by the Charity and acting under Professor Kaplan's guidance, coordinated related academic offerings on-site at Chawton House Library and on the University's Southampton campus.


Emma Clery has been appointed as Professor of Eighteenth Century Literature at Southampton University with responsibility for the new Chawton MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies, following the retirement of Professor Cora Kaplan. She has previously worked at the University of Keele and at Sheffield Hallam University, where she was the British Academy Research Fellow with the Corvey Project on Romantic-Era Women's Writing. Her interests are in Gothic and eighteenth-century literature, especially writing by women.

At Southampton she will be working with an interdisciplinary team of colleagues, to develop collaborative research. She will also be building on the well-established connection with Chawton House Library and Study Centre for Early Women's Writing, the former home of Jane Austen's brother located in the village where she wrote her later works. The Library contains some 9000 volumes of rare and unique works, the majority by women writers of the period 1600 to 1830. With the staff at Chawton, Professor Clery will focus on a number of areas, including a programme of events, the enhancement of the website as a means of disseminating research and making texts available, encouraging use of the resources by visiting students and scholars, and integration of the collection as a vital part of the study of English at Southampton.

Emma Clery has published widely, and her most recent book is The Feminization Debate in Eighteenth-Century England: Literature, Commerce and Luxury (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). She is currently working on two projects, one on the problem of 'effeminacy' in eighteenth-century culture, the other on the remaking of the English novel from Burney to Austen.

Gillian Dow was appointed as Chawton Postdoctoral Research Fellow in July 2005. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1999, with an MA in English Literature and French, and researched her D.Phil. at Balliol College, University of Oxford between 2000 and 2004. She has worked as a translator, and has taught for several Oxford colleges and the Université Paris XII.

Her research focuses mainly on French and British women's writing in the long eighteenth century, and she has published articles on educational writings, literature for children, eighteenth-century literary magazines and reviews, and Anglo-French cultural relations 1700-1900. She is currently working on a monograph based on her doctoral thesis, the working title of which is Madame de Genlis in England. Genlis (1746-1830) was well-known to British women writers. In addition, along with colleagues based in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Sweden and France, Gillian Dow is a member of a new European research group founded in Utrecht, collaborating on a project entitled 'Cross-cultural mediations and gender: European perspectives'. The collective aims are to examine the role women writers played as translators and interpreters of texts in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: Gillian's contribution will be to examine the extent to which French women novelists influenced British women writers, and thus the development of the eighteenth century novel.

Gillian Dow is also planning to organise a number of interdisciplinary study days and conferences. The first of these, scheduled for the 11th of March 2006, will be entitled 'Translators, Mediators and Interpreters: Women's Writing 1700-1900'. See the University of Southampton's English events page for the Call for Papers:

The Chawton MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies

The Chawton MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies is an interdisciplinary programme for which the collections at the Library provide a key resource. Women's writing in Britain in the long eighteenth century is a primary focus, but the MA allows students also to specialise in the history and the visual and material culture of the period.

Students are introduced to the literary, political, philosophical and cultural issues of eighteenth-century Britain through options that explore the rise of the novel, gender and the social order, race and empire, the consumer revolution, modernity, and analyses of art, taste, gender, and politeness. The MA encourages students to work across disciplines and to use archival sources.

The course can be studied over 12 months full-time or 26 months part-time, beginning early October.

For further information (including course outlines and staff interests) please contact Professor Emma Clery or visit the MA webpage: