Abstract: WM Women: Women’s Experience in Co-education

Currently, special collections and the college does not have consolidated information about women students and experiences at the college. By uncovering the stories of women, specifically difficult, unsettling, or noteworthy narratives, I can record how inclusivity among genders has changed over-time. Reviewing these stories and student experiences, can also give insight into how we can continue to combat gender disparities and discrimination at the college. The question I seek to answer is: How have gender regulations and expectations shaped the experiences of Women at William and Mary? Using the Flat Hat, and interviews with WM women alumni conducted by an oral historian, I will dive deeper into the experience of women at the college. More broadly, this project will contribute to the understanding of student experiences at the college and comprehension of the experience of women in co-education.

Abstract: Eighteenth-Century French Women and Humor

During the eighteenth century, a series of books called the Bibliothèque de Campagne ou Amusement de l’Esprit et du Coeur swept across France. This light-hearted series was enjoyed particularly by literate French women, and included poetry, romance novels, adventure stories, and joke books. One notable female reader who owned this series was Queen Marie Antoinette. Biographer Stefan Zweig called Marie Antoinette an “average woman… a lay-figure decked in queen’s robes” and argued that had it not been for her royal status and the French Revolution, she would not have become so influential. If Marie Antoinette did indeed represent the “average woman” and wield great influence, then her reading choices may shed light on what she found funny, but more importantly, what many other eighteenth-century literate women also considered humorous. According to historians Jan Bremmer and Herman Roodenburg, humor is crucial for providing “key[s] to cultural codes and sensibilities of the past.” By examining humor in the Bibliothèque de Campagne, I intend to to glean more information about the humor, values, and literary tastes of literate women. 

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