On the 11th March, Dr. Katherine Mullin (University of Leeds) gave a fascinating talk on the topic of ‘Barmaids and Reading’.
The paper described how moral anxieties around drinking and reading were suggestively aligned in the closing decade of the nineteenth century and into Modernism. It considered the contested and troubling figure of the barmaid during this period, the focus of much moral panic, and suggested that she became an oblique figure for the imperilled young woman reader. The paper focussed on Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure (1895) and James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), reading both novels alongside contemporary cultural representations of the barmaids they describe.
Dr Mullin’s research is soon to be published in a book entitled Working Girls: Fiction, Sexuality, and the Modern, 1870 – 1922 (Oxford University Press).
Suitably, once the talk was over, we went for a drink.