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Amanda Vickery gives first annual lecture for Centre for Studies of Home

There’s no place like home, particularly when it comes to cutting-edge research, as Queen Mary, University of London is proving with a new centre dedicated to its study, partnered by the Geffrye Museum in east London.

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The Centre for Studies of Home aims to lead the field internationally, bringing together academics, museum curators and educators with a shared interest and expertise in house and home, past and present.

Amanda Vickery, Professor of Early Modern History at Queen Mary, is to give her inaugural lecture to mark the Centre launch on Tuesday 22 November. Entitled ‘Family life makes Tories of us all’, the lecture explores the home as the state in miniature and a problem that has preoccupied Professor Vickery for her whole career – “what is the interplay of love and power?” 

“After 1688, new ideas on political authority and social manners came to the fore, but the household hierarchy endured regardless. Husbands were to govern wives, masters and mistresses to rule servants, and parents to discipline children,” explains Professor Vickery.

“By the eighteenth century, new ideals of politeness revolutionised domestic manners and interactions among the middle classes. Meanwhile the vogue for sensibility in novels and paintings inflated expectations about affection and happiness at home.”

Professor Vickery will go on to discuss the balance of love and power in eighteenth-century marriage and family life, and how dependents lived with the contradictions. “‘Family life’, it was observed in 1779, ‘makes Tories of us all… see if any Whig wishes to see the beautiful Utopian expansion of power within his own walls’,” Professor Vickery adds.

The Centre for Studies of Home is co-directed by Professor Alison Blunt, of the School of Geography, and Eleanor John, Head of Collections and Exhibitions at the Geffrye Museum, which focuses on homes in England over the past 400 years. 

“The Centre offers exciting opportunities to explore diverse themes such as architecture; interior design; the relationship between home, household and identity; the diversity of home-making on a global scale, and privacy and security,” says Professor Blunt, who specialises in themes of home and migration.

At present, some 15 academics at the university are researching the home in a range of disciplines including geography, history, English and psychiatry. Those experts include historian Amanda Vickery who specialises in English domestic life from the 1600s to today; Professor Markman Ellis, from the School of English and Drama, who studies tea-table culture in eighteenth-century England; and Dr Alasdair King, of the School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, who researches depictions of ‘home’ and ‘homeland’ in contemporary European cinema.

The Geffrye Museum uses its rich collections to explore ideas around the meaning of objects and the ways in which homes have been used and furnished over four centuries, reflecting changes in society and patterns of behaviour, as well as style, fashion and taste.

“A key part of the Geffrye’s contribution will be its expertise in making cutting-edge research accessible to diverse, often non-academic, audiences,” says David Dewing, Director of the Geffrye Museum.

The Centre convenes a seminar series on 'Histories of Home' at the Institute of Historical Research, postgraduate study days, and a range of workshops. Research projects affiliated with the Centre include an AHRC project on 'Living with the past at home: domestic prehabitation and inheritance' (Catherine Nash, Principal Investigator).

For more information on the Centre, visit:


Event: ‘Family life makes Tories of us all’

Time: 6pm

Date: 22 November 2011

Venue: Cocktails and live jazz band in the Octagon, Queens' Building, Mile End Road, E1 4NS. The lecture will follow on from this in the Arts2 building on the same campus.

To reserve seats, please book via: /qmpublic/events/items/2011/56718.html

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