HISTORY SEMINAR: 20 May 2013, 4.30-6.30, FCH QU122

Two of our postgraduates are presenting papers this Monday, 20th May, at a public event. Please do attend, they are both undertaking some very interesting work!

Sarah Dickinson, ‘Preparation and Performance: Puritan Experiences of Dying in Early Modern England’

This paper, drawn from my MA research, explores Puritan perceptions of dying in early modern England. The paper examines and compares Thomas Becon’s The Sycke Mans Salue (1561) and William Perkins’s A Salve for a Sicke Man (1595) in order to explore Puritan ideas about the practice of dying. Dying was regarded as a joyous event by Puritans, yet one which was fraught with difficulties and dangers that the individual must overcome. Both Becon and Perkins had very clear, but to some extent different opinions on how individuals should prepare for their death and the performance that they expected from the dying individual on their deathbed. One of these key differences was the writers’ consideration of ‘sins of infirmity’, where illness may have affected the deathbed performance.

This paper considers the shared belief of Becon and Perkins that the individual, in order to prepare adequately for their death, needed to focus daily on preparing for the final hours of their human life. It questions why both theologians perceived daily preparation to be necessary and what methods they advised their readers to take in order to prepare for their death. Patience, submission and the ability to display thankfulness for an affliction were just a few examples of the many attributes that Becon and Perkins expected their readers to display in their deathbed drama. Using these works, this paper offers an insight into early modern beliefs about dying, and in particular considers how Puritans were advised to prepare for their final struggle.

Luke Wright, ‘Carving Identity out of Silence: Californio Women and Cultural Interaction in San Francisco, 1850-1890’

During this period, the experience of Californio women in San Francisco was one of cultural displacement, readjustment and conflict. The American absorption of California in 1848, and the precipitating process of Anglo-American cultural hegemony, meant that Californio women became subjugated along both gender and cultural lines. Furthermore, the proliferation of a more culturally diverse population, particularly in San Francisco, created a new dynamic within which Californio women had to find and place their identity. Through the myriad of day-to-day interactions, conflicts and mediations, though, Californio women managed to carve out a place for their culture in new American California. Simultaneously, their engagement with cultural interaction served as a continuation of practises which attempted to subvert Californio patriarchal control and maintain a semblance of the cultural hierarchy which existed previously. Interestingly, they often did this without saying a word.

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