Show Hide image

The Hidden Histories Podcast

Series One: The Great Forgetting: Women Writers Before Austen.

Welcome to Hidden Histories, the New Statesman’s history podcast, hosted by deputy editor Helen Lewis. Each series explores a subject that the textbooks hid, held-back, or hijacked, starting with “The Great Forgetting: Women Writers Before Austen”.

Most eighteenth century novels were written by women. So why are the authors we remember mostly men? Here, you can find out how our episodes will confront this question, explore links to further reading and learn more about the show’s guests.

You can also listen to the trailer using the player below...

... or subscribe in iTunes.

Series Breakdown 

1. Re-writing the rise of the novel: who do conventional accounts of the era overlook?
2. Bluestocking culture: how did women become writers?
3. Sociable spaces: what did it mean to have a magazine by women?
4. Unsex’d females: women writers and radical politics
5. Fight club: who’s the most interesting female writer of the Eighteenth century?
6. The Great Forgetting: why are the authors we remember mostly men?

About our Guests

Dr Sophie Coulombeau is a lecturer at Cardiff University, novelist, and BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker. She blogs at Sophie Coulombeau and tweets @SMCoulombeau . Her favourite female writer of the period is Frances Burney

Dr Elizabeth Edwards is a research fellow on the “Curious Travellers: Thomas Pennant and the Welsh and Scottish Tour” project, at the University of Wales. She specialises in the history of women’s writing, tweets @eliz_edw and flies the flag for Hester Thrale Piozzi.

Dr Jennie Batchelor is a Reader in Eighteenth-Century Studies at the University of Kent and Principal Investigator on "The Lady's Magazine (1770-1818): Understanding the Emergence of a Genre”. She tweets @jenniebatchelor and her favourite writer of the series is ‘Anonymous’.

 

Series Reading list

Episode 1: Rewriting the Rise of the Novel

Jane Spencer, The Rise of the Woman Novelist: From Aphra Behn to Jane Austen (Wiley Blackwell, 1986)
Dale Spender, Mothers of the Novel: 100 Good Women Writers before Jane Austen (Pandora, 1986)
Janet Todd, The Sign of Angellica: Women, writing and Fiction, 1660-1800 (Virago, 1989)

Episode 2: Bluestocking culture

Elizabeth Eger, Bluestockings: Women of Reason from Enlightenment to Romanticism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)
Harriet Guest, Small Change: Women, Learning, Patriotism, 1750-1810 (Chicago University Press, 2000)  
Norma Clarke, The Rise and Fall of the Woman of Letters (Pimlico, 2004)
Devoney Looser, ‘Catherine Macaulay: The “Female Historian” in Context’Études Épistémè17 (2010) 

Episode 3: Sociable spaces

Jennie Batchelor, Koenraad Claes and Jenny DiPlacidi, 'The Lady's Magazine: Understanding the Emergence of a Genre' 
Alison Adburgham, Women in Print: Writing Women and Women's Magazines from the Restoration to the Accession of Victoria (Allen and Unwin, 1972)
Mary Thale, 'Women in London Debating Societies in 1780', Gender & History, 7:1 (April 1995), pp. 5-24
 London Debates: 1780

Episode 4: The Unsex'd Females

Anne K. Mellor, Mothers of the Nation: Women's Political Writing in England, 1780-1830 (Indiana University Press, 2002)
Angela Keane, Women Writers and the English Nation in the 1790s (Cambridge University Press, 2001)
Brycchan Carey, British Abolitionism and the Rhetoric of Sensibility (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)

Episode 5: Fight Club

Margaret Anne Doody, Frances Burney: The Life In The Works (Rutgers University Press, 1988)
Frances Burney, Evelina (World's Classics, 2008)
William McCarthy, Hester Thrale Piozzi: Portrait of a Literary Woman (University of North Carolina Press, 1985)
John Mullan, Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature (Faber, 2008)
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (World's Classics, 2015)

Episode 6: The Great Forgetting

Clifford Siskin, The Work of Writing: Literature and Social Change in Britain, 1700-1830 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997) 
William McCarthy, 'The Repression of Hester Lynch Piozzi: or, How we forgot a revolution in authorship', MLA 18:1 (Winter, 1988), pp. 99-111. 

Show Hide image

Netflix's Ozark is overstuffed – not to mention tonally weird

Could the channel use a hit? Every time my subscription leaves my bank account, I think again that it could.

The main reason why Ozark, the new Netflix series, feels so underpowered has to do with its star, Jason Bateman (who also directs): a good actor who badly wants for charisma, he simply can’t carry it alone. Watching the first few episodes, I kept thinking of Jon Hamm in Mad Men and (a better example here) Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad, both of whom played, as does Bateman, characters around which the plots of their respective series turned. When they were on screen, which was often, it was all but impossible to tear your eyes from them; when they were off it, you felt like you were only biding your time until they returned. But when Bateman disappears from view, you hardly notice. In fact, it feels like a plus: at least now you might get to see a bit more of the deft and adorable Laura Linney.

In Ozark, Bateman is Marty, an outwardly square guy whose big secret is that he is a money launderer for the second biggest drugs cartel in Mexico. When the series opens, he and his wife Wendy (Linney) and their two children are living in Chicago, where he nominally works as a financial advisor.

By the end of the first episode, however, they’re on their way to the Lake of the Ozarks in rural Missouri. Marty’s partner, Bruce, has been on the fiddle, and the cartel, having summarily executed him, now wants Marty both to pay back the cash, and to establish a few new businesses in which future income may be cleaned far from the prying eyes of the law enforcement agencies. If this sounds derivative, it is. We’re in the realm of Breaking Bad, only where that show gave us out-of-control Bunsen burners and flesh-eating chemicals, this one is more preoccupied with percentages and margins.

Where’s the friction? Well, not only is the FBI on Marty’s tail, his wife has been cheating on him, with the result that their marriage is now just another of his business arrangements. The locals (think Trump supporters with beards as big as pine trees) have proved thus far to be on the unfriendly side, and having paid off their debts, the only house Marty can afford has a cliché – sorry, crotchety old guy – living in the basement. On paper, admittedly, this all sounds moderately promising. But hilarity does not ensue. As dull as the Lake of the Ozarks when the tourist season is over, not even Linney can make Bill Dubuque’s dialogue come alive. Her character should be traumatised: before they left Chicago, the cartel, for reasons I do not completely understand, pushed her podgy lover – splat! – off his balcony. Instead, she’s fussing about the crotchety old guy’s sexism.

Ozark is overstuffed and tonally weird, so I won’t be binge-watching this one. This completes rather a bad run for me and Netflix; after the lame new series of House of Cards and the egregious Gypsy, this is the third of its shows on the trot to bore me rigid. Could the channel use a hit? Every time my subscription leaves my bank account, I think again that it could.

And now to The Sweet Makers: A Tudor Treat (19 July, 8pm), in which we hear the sound of the “living history” barrel being scraped so loudly, those attending the meeting at which it was commissioned must surely have worn ear defenders. Basically, this is a series in which four confectioners “go back in time” to discover how their forebears used sugar (first, the Tudors; next week, the Georgians).

What it means in practice is lots of Generation Game-style faffing with candied roses and coriander comfits by people in long skirts and silly hats – a hey-nonny-nonny fiesta of pointlessness that is itself a sugar coating for those nasty things called facts (ie a bit of tokenism about slavery and our ancestors’ trouble with their teeth).

Resident expert, food historian Dr Annie Gray, strained to give the proceedings urgency, sternly reminding the confectioners that the sugar house they’d spent hours building did not yet have a roof. But who cared if it didn’t? Destined to be eaten by fake Tudor guests at a fake Tudor banquet, it wasn’t as if anyone was going to lose their head for it – not even, alas, at Broadcasting House. 

Rachel Cooke trained as a reporter on The Sunday Times. She is now a writer at The Observer. In the 2006 British Press Awards, she was named Interviewer of the Year.

This article first appeared in the 20 July 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The new world disorder

0800 7318496