‘Shee-citizens’ in early modern London
Professor Laura Gowing
King's College London
The ‘shee-citizens’ who featured in 1640s tracts were parodic mockeries of London politics turned upside-down by crisis. But behind these fantasies of female demands was a set of overlapping questions about women’s civic identity, clustered around concepts such as ‘free’, ‘citizen’, ‘trade’, and ‘rights’. This lecture will examine the ways that London women belonged and did not belong to the city, looking at their negotiations with freedom, law, and custom from the city to the suburbs; and it will suggest that in those journeys between freedom and exclusion, belonging and expulsion, a particular kind of metropolitan female experience was forged, one which helped create a practice of female citizenship just as the idea of women as citizens was foreclosed.
Laura Gowing started her career at Royal Holloway and is now Professor of Early Modern History at King’s College London. She has published extensively on women, the body, language, and power in early modern England. Her most recent books are Ingenious Trade: Women and Work in 17th-Century London (CUP, 2021) and the introductory Gender in Early Modern England (Routledge, 2022).
Admission free but booking is essential.