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Wednesday 4 April 2018 8.30 - 10.30
X-1 - WOM05 : Loss and Loneliness.
6UQ/OG/006 University Square
Network: Women and Gender Chair: Anne Montenach
Organizer: Katie BarclayDiscussants: -
Katie Barclay : Loneliness and Community in Early Modern Scotland
The relationship between the self and society, or the individual and the community, is central to debates in early modern, and especially eighteenth-century history, around the production of the modern subject. Whether explained by processes of industrialization, religious reformation, or the Enlightenment, the modern self is in important ways fractured ... (Show more)
The relationship between the self and society, or the individual and the community, is central to debates in early modern, and especially eighteenth-century history, around the production of the modern subject. Whether explained by processes of industrialization, religious reformation, or the Enlightenment, the modern self is in important ways fractured from its communally-orientated early modern ancestor. Moreover, this was a process inflected by gender, with the modern independent subject a man and women’s selves continuing to formed in relation to their husbands and fathers. Yet, if selves were different for early modern people – if communities and families played a bigger role in identity production – how did such shifts in ideas about the self impact on people’s emotional experience of relation with others? A focus on loss and loneliness provides a key window on this question. Was loneliness experienced differently for people whose selves were orientated towards greater relation to others? Was loss experienced different for such selves? This paper explores these key questions through the lives of the Scottish poor across a long eighteenth century. As a communally and family-orientated group, their experience of loss and loneliness, including the use of separation and shunning as forms of social discipline and the gendering of these processes, provides key insights into the ways that the history of an emotion – loneliness – is produced in relation to its social and cultural context. (Show less)

Elaine Chalus : Quite Alone? Considering Separation and Loneliness during the Napoleonic Wars
Britain’s eighteenth-century wars saw thousands of naval and military families separated for extended periods of time. While social scientists and medical practitioners have focused on modern military and naval wives’ responses to their husbands’ lengthy and/or repeated deployments, especially during war time, we still know relatively little about how their ... (Show more)
Britain’s eighteenth-century wars saw thousands of naval and military families separated for extended periods of time. While social scientists and medical practitioners have focused on modern military and naval wives’ responses to their husbands’ lengthy and/or repeated deployments, especially during war time, we still know relatively little about how their counterparts coped with separation in earlier wars. As now, they experienced the anxiety of parting, loneliness of separation, vicissitudes of communication and fearful uncertainty of outcomes for their loved ones. Moreover, their separations were longer (three-year deployments were not unusual) and communication was much slower and sporadic at best. Many women — particularly sailors’ wives — also struggled with financial insecurity. The Royal Navy’s remittance system, established during the Seven Years’ War (1756–63), enabled sailors to allot a portion of their salaries to their wives or mothers, but it was little used until modified to allow monthly payments in the 1790s.
This paper compares the experiences of two leading eighteenth-century admirals’ wives who exemplify — at least at first glance — opposing ends of the spectrum. Elizabeth (Betsey) Fremantle and Frances (Fanny) Nelson were contemporaries whose husbands were friends as well as ambitious fellow officers. Each had come to England as a young wife and each had limited personal support networks when her husband initially left to go to sea. Both suffered from loneliness when separated from their husbands, but their experiences of separation and the impact of separation on their characters and their marriages were markedly different. Whereas the Nelsons’ marriage ended in acrimonious breakdown, something which historians have until recently all too often blamed at least in part on Fanny Nelson’s inability to cope with separation, the Fremantles’ marriage not only remained solid, but Betsey Fremantle also emerged from this period of separation, personally stronger and significantly more confident. An examination of the two women’s lives ashore during their husbands’ absences explores the coping mechanisms that each developed and employed, and argues that the differences in their experiences were the result of differences in character, class and commitment, rather than personal responses of loneliness itself. Indeed, the paper suggests that their experiences and those of many other women who were separated from their husbands due to the Wars need to be seen in a wider eighteenth-century context. Eighteenth-century women were frequently left ‘quite alone’ for any number of reasons; how they prevented ‘alone’ from becoming ‘lonely’ deserves further study. (Show less)

Marjo Kaartinen : “There is a trace of you in the air of that room” – Practices of Coping with Separation from a Friend. The Case of Vera Hjelt (1857–1947)
In Helsinki in 1901, Vera Hjelt was trying to cope with the separation from her very dear friend Cely Mechelin when the latter lived temporarily in Stockholm with her mother and father, senator Leo Mechelin. Senator Mechelin was the leader of the Finnish opposition to the russification politics of the ... (Show more)
In Helsinki in 1901, Vera Hjelt was trying to cope with the separation from her very dear friend Cely Mechelin when the latter lived temporarily in Stockholm with her mother and father, senator Leo Mechelin. Senator Mechelin was the leader of the Finnish opposition to the russification politics of the Russian Emperor and his administration in the arch-duchy of Finland. The political situation brought tension to life in Finland at large, and to Hjelt especially because she knew that Cely Mechelin was deeply involved in – potentially life-threatening – underground opposition activities.
This paper looks at Vera Hjelt’s letters to Cely Mechelin especially in the autumn of 1901 and teases out the practices of mental coping during the two adult women’s forced separation. At the time, Hjelt was 44 and Mechelin 35 years old. The practices this papers discusses were small, simple and everyday acts, moments of trying to grasp a trace of the friend’s past presence, such as staring at the friend’s photograph on the desk or walking past the friend’s house. Even though Hjelt was not alone during her friend’s absence as she lived with a group of women, her letters betray a strong emotional turmoil that the special circumstances of the Mechelins’ exile further enhanced. Her letters add to our understanding of the meanings of women’s fin-de-siècle friendships. (Show less)

Nina Koefoed : Marriage, Protestantism and Loneliness
With Protestantism, marriage and family life became central to a pious life. The solitude of the abbey was no longer an ideal, but was replaced with expectations of a life lived in the social world belonging to a household. Because a pious life was lived in socially and emotionally-defined relations, ... (Show more)
With Protestantism, marriage and family life became central to a pious life. The solitude of the abbey was no longer an ideal, but was replaced with expectations of a life lived in the social world belonging to a household. Because a pious life was lived in socially and emotionally-defined relations, loneliness came close to being a sin. Through a case-study of eighteenth-century prison records, this paper ask how loneliness within household, family and especially married life was handled and perceived in this religious context. Danish prison records from the eighteenth century reveal how people were prisoned for ‘unchristian’ life within marriage. The term did not relate to adultery, but to cases in which the man or women did not live up to the Christian norms for married and family life. Through an analysis of chosen cases of unchristian life, the paper will investigate the display loneliness within the household and how loneliness was related to drinking, violence, poverty and other factors. (Show less)

Deborah Simonton : Voices from Lost Homelands
People manage loss in different ways, and experience grief and loneliness in a variety of forms. For some expressing their emotions is one stage in recovery, but it is also a key facet in remembering—and remembering so as not to forget the causes of that loss. One collection of Estonian ... (Show more)
People manage loss in different ways, and experience grief and loneliness in a variety of forms. For some expressing their emotions is one stage in recovery, but it is also a key facet in remembering—and remembering so as not to forget the causes of that loss. One collection of Estonian women’s life stories captures that essence in its title, She who remembers survives. This paper is based on published life stories from Estonia and Lithuania which expressed the sense of loss, the loneliness, the anger and ultimately the strategies for survival of the authors. Covering broadly the years of the second world war and Soviet deportations in the 1950s, it will contextualise three case studies of women who were deported from this region and examine how they conveyed their sense of loss of family, boyfriends, country and a remembered past. In doing so, it will also reflect on issues thrown up by such life writing, including not only the need to articulate and remember feelings, but also self-representation in a post war world. (Show less)