What’s on : Other

Science, Gender and Sociability in a Northern City c. 1775-1820 Conference 8-10th June

8 Jun 2023
Start time
12:00 AM
Science, Gender and Sociability in a Northern City c. 1775-1820 Conference 8-10th June

Event Information

Science, Gender and Sociability in a Northern City c. 1775-1820

This interdisciplinary event brings together scholars in women’s history, the history of science, literature, theatrical performance, music and historical archaeology from across the UK and the US, to contextualise and analyse the diary of Jane Ewbank (1778‒1824).

Jane Ewbank, the twenty-five year old daughter of a York druggist, kept a 34,000-word diary from 1803 to 1805, which details a conscious project of self-education via reading, sociability and her involvement in the intellectual and social landscape of a northern English city, including the theatre, concerts, science lectures, the natural world and its materiality. All participants will have online access to the diary.

YPS are sponsoring the sessions on 9th June from 9.30am in the Tempest Anderson Hall in the Yorkshire Museum.

All participants must prebook online with the University of York further details here:


Member’s report

The University of York, York Georgian Society, Modern Humanities Research Association, the British Society for the History of Science and the Yorkshire Philosophical Society joined together to explore and promote the life of Jane Ewbank known to posterity through her diaries. The daughter of George Ewbank of Castlegate, York, a well-known druggist and banker, Jane certainly led an active life and used her lively intelligence to report on her activities. A regular playgoer at York Theatre Royal, she also attended concerts at the Assembly Rooms and

lectures on natural philosophy, all of which she recorded in her diary.

Led by Jane Rendall, formerly of the University’s Department of History, throughout the three-day conference papers were presented on many aspects of life in 18th century York and opened up the role of women both as intermediaries of discoveries within the domestic sphere and as discoverers in their own right. In her keynote paper, Professor Anna Marie Roos of the University of Lincoln focussed on the domestic sphere as an experimental space while at the same time often interacting with learned bodies including the Royal Society. Succeeding papers examined Jane’s own personal landscape within York, her networks and ‘philosophical pursuits’ and the place of York within the Transpennine Enlightenment. Day One ended with a visit to Fairfax House passing through areas of York mentioned in her diary followed by a musical recital and readings from the diary itself.

Day Two reflected on the natural world, the scientific lecturing networks which encompassed York and how Jane’s diary with its acute observations on theatre and music provide a cultural history of a moment in time. It is noteworthy that she did not always adopt the mainstream view showing confidence in her own judgment. It is clear that Jane was also involved in charitable works including the Ladies’ Committee of the Grey Coat School and the Female Friendly Society as well as encouraging other women in their literary aspirations. The final day examined the diary form which was used by many eighteenth century women as a creative outlet and how Jane, like her contemporary Dorothy Wordsworth, used it to express her emotions in her 1803 trip through Yorkshire and the Lake District.

The Conference was supported by numerous informative and well-curated posters of life in and around eighteenth century York.

Dr Dorothy Nott