Lilith Symposium



Flesh and Blood: A Feminist Symposium on Embodied Histories

Australian National University, Friday May 8, 2015

The symposium was intended to celebrate and build upon the rich tradition of placing the body at the centre of feminist historical analysis. It explored how gendered norms are reflected, reinscribed and contested through bodies, and encouraged consideration of new methods and sources for studying the elusive bodies of the past.

Keynote Speakers:

Joanna Bourke, Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London

Joy Damousi, Professor of History at The University of Melbourne and Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellow.

Download the programme here: Lilith-Programme-2015


‘Women Without Men: Spinsters, widows and deserted wives in the nineteenth century and beyond’ 

Australian National University, Friday 10 May 2013

The inaugural conference of the relaunched Lilith: A Feminist History Journal was held on Friday 10 May 2013, following the Allan Martin week of events at the School of History at ANU. The keynote speaker Professor Carolyn Steedman was the Allan Martin lecturer for 2013. The conference was sponsored by the ANU Gender Institute.

Download conference program here. Women Without Men Conference Program.

‘Women Without Men: Spinsters, widows and deserted wives in the nineteenth century and beyond’

Nineteenth century colonial Australia and New Zealand are commonly viewed as a man’s world, just as colonialism and the imperial project have been frequently gendered male. While women have been added to our picture of the colonial world in recent years it has been as adjuncts to male enterprise, as ‘colonial helpmeets’. They have been grated roles as civilising agents of empire and as domestic wives and mothers. Nevertheless, women on their own have proved problematic within this story. As ‘damned whores’ or domestic servants they appear briefly on the colonial stage before taking up their prescribed vocations as wives. But not all women married, and of those that did many found themselves on their own, often with children to support, having been widowed or deserted. In spite of this, few historians, with notable exceptions such as Shurlee Swain and Renate Howe, have dealt with how these women navigated the man’s world of Australia and New Zealand in the nineteenth century.

This conference seeks to place these ‘women without men’ at the centre. It will explore themes of financial and social independence that women in the nineteenth and into the twentieth century chose for themselves, or had thrust upon them by circumstances. While there has been more discussion of women alone in the twentieth century, particularly in relation to their wartime experiences, a consideration of continuities and difference over time is valuable. similarly, placing the antipodes within a wider context of empire and viewing ‘single’ women through a transnational lens offers different perspectives on what might have hitherto been considered peculiar to one country.

The conference organisers would like to thank the ANU Gender Institute and the ANU School of History for their support.