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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. 

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Donald Trump wants to terminate the Environmental Protection Agency - can he?

"Epa, Epa, Eeeepaaaaa" – Grampa Simpson.

 

There have been countless jokes about US President Donald Trump’s aversion to academic work, with many comparing him to an infant. The Daily Show created a browser extension aptly named “Make Trump Tweets Eight Again” that converts the font of Potus’ tweets to crayon scrawlings. Indeed, it is absurd that – even without the childish font – one particular bill that was introduced within the first month of Trump taking office looked just as puerile. Proposed by Matt Gaetz, a Republican who had been in Congress for barely a month, “H.R. 861” was only one sentence long:

“The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018”.

If this seems like a stunt, that is because Gaetz is unlikely to actually achieve his stated aim. Drafting such a short bill without any co-sponsors – and leaving it to a novice Congressman to present – is hardly the best strategy to ensure a bill will pass. 

Still, Republicans' distrust for environmental protections is well-known - long-running cartoon show The Simpsons even did a send up of the Epa where the agency had its own private army. So what else makes H.R. 861 implausible?

Well, the 10-word-long statement neglects to address the fact that many federal environmental laws assume the existence of or defer to the Epa. In the event that the Epa was abolished, all of these laws – from the 1946 Atomic Energy Act to the 2016 Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act – would need to be amended. Preferably, a way of doing this would be included in the bill itself.

Additionally, for the bill to be accepted in the Senate there would have to be eight Democratic senators who agreed with its premise. This is an awkward demand when not even all Republicans back Trump. The man Trum appointed to the helm of the Epa, Scott Pruitt, is particularly divisive because of his long opposition to the agency. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said that she was hostile to the appointment of a man who was “so manifestly opposed to the mission of the agency” that he had sued the Epa 14 times. Polls from 2016 and 2017 suggests that most Americans would be also be opposed to the agency’s termination.

But if Trump is incapable of entirely eliminating the Epa, he has other ways of rendering it futile. In January, Potus banned the Epa and National Park Services from “providing updates on social media or to reporters”, and this Friday, Trump plans to “switch off” the government’s largest citizen-linked data site – the Epa’s Open Data Web Service. This is vital not just for storing and displaying information on climate change, but also as an accessible way of civilians viewing details of local environmental changes – such as chemical spills. Given the administration’s recent announcement of his intention to repeal existing safeguards, such as those to stabilise the climate and protect the environment, defunding this public data tool is possibly an attempt to decrease awareness of Trump’s forthcoming actions.

There was also a recent update to the webpage of the Epa's Office of Science and Technology, which saw all references to “science-based” work removed, in favour of an emphasis on “national economically and technologically achievable standards”. 

Trump’s reshuffle of the Epa's priorities puts the onus on economic activity at the expense of public health and environmental safety. Pruitt, who is also eager to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain, spoke in an interview of his desire to “exit” the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. He was led to this conclusion because of his belief that the agreement means “contracting our economy to serve and really satisfy Europe, and China, and India”.

 

Rather than outright closure of the Epa, its influence and funding are being leached away. H.R. 861 might be a subtle version of one of Potus’ Twitter taunts – empty and outrageous – but it is by no means the only way to drastically alter the Epa’s landscape. With Pruitt as Epa Administrator, the organisation may become a caricature of itself – as in The Simpsons Movie. Let us hope that the #resistance movements started by “Rogue” Epa and National Parks social media accounts are able to stave off the vultures until there is “Hope” once more.

 

Anjuli R. K. Shere is a 2016/17 Wellcome Scholar and science intern at the New Statesman

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