The first session of the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Research Group will take place at 4pm on Weds 2nd October in MB3201 (Minvera Building).


Dr. Maeve O’Dwyer will be talking to us on ‘Rethinking the Female Gaze: Gender, Sculpture and the Studio in early Nineteenth-Century Rome’. Refreshments will be available from 4pm and the talk will begin at 4.15pm.


Drawing on the British Library’s collection of travel writing by British visitors to Rome, this paper will consider the struggle of the female gaze to emerge from the traditionally male space of art appreciation on the Grand Tour in the early nineteenth century. Interaction with sculpted classical bodies was socially problematic, especially at a time when methods of viewing sculpture changed towards focusing more keenly on the physicality and materiality of the object, and British society began to experience what Dror Wahrman titled ‘gender panic’. Some women, like Pauline Borghese, exploited this potential prurience, deliberately performing as what Chloe Chard would term ‘spectacles’. Others prefaced written accounts of their travels with apologia around their ability to engage with art. In both cases, interacting with artists in the studio allowed them to reframe and rethink their position within the social geography of Rome and the established sociability of the Grand Tour. This paper posits that those women normally constrained by societal norms when viewing the canon of the antique were enabled to diversify and develop their self-fashioning through the space of the artist’s studio.



Dr Maeve O’Dwyer is the Programme Manager for HEAR, the internal programme for achieving HEA recognition at the University of Lincoln. Maeve is an Associate Lecturer in the School of History and Heritage, teaching undergraduates on the Art History and History BA and the History BA. She also offers a technique class, open to all students regardless of level of study or School.