Saturday, October 21 at 10:00am to 12:00pm
Huntington Library, Seaver 1-2 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA
"A 'Failure Ludicrous in Its Completeness'? Putting the Right Spin on the Workhouse"
Workhouses were a major innovation in social welfare practice and policy in eighteenth-century England, with over 3000 parishes utilizing this institutional mode of poor relief by the end of the century. Seldom deeply analyzed by historians, workhouses lurk in popular memory as heinous "Pauper Bastilles," but recent research has highlighted the high levels of care they provided for inmates. Using both traditional social history methods and digital reconstruction techniques, "The Workhouse Dickens Never Saw" seeks to recreate the lived experience of paupers in the eighteenth-century workhouse, while exploring the changes in policy and ideology that underpinned the rise of poor law institutions in the age of Enlightenment.
Susannah Ottaway is Professor of History at Carleton College, where she teaches courses in early modern European and nineteenth-century British and Irish history. Her publications include The Decline of Life: Old Age in Eighteenth-Century England (Cambridge, 2004), and an 8-volume set of primary sources co-edited with Lynn Botelho Old Age in England 1500-1800 (London, 2008, 2009). A major focus of her work has been the public humanities in Minnesota; she serves on the Board of Directors of the MN Humanities Center, and is co-directing a four-year Mellon-funded grant called "Public Works: Connecting Communities to the Arts and Humanities at Carleton."