Margaret Cavendish and Nature

Margaret Cavendish and NatureJune 19-21, 2009
Center for the Humanities,
811 SW Jefferson Avenue, Corvallis

Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623–1673), was the first woman to publish scientific works in English. This conference focuses on the theme of nature in her scientific and literary works. All conference sessions are free and open to the public.

This conference is sponsored by the Horning Endowment in the Humanities and the History Department, with support for the Center for the Humanities.


Friday, June 19

9:00-10:30 Session One: Science and Nature
Sara Mendelson, McMaster University: “‘His and Hers: God and Nature in Cavendish’s Thought”
Dan Mills, Georgia State: “Cavendish, Women and the Scientific Community”
Bennett Huffman, Oregon Department of Agriculture: “A Dialogue betwixt Man and Nature”

10:30-11:00 Break / Late Registration

11:00-12:30 Session Two: Cavendish and Francis Bacon
Jen Roberts, Independent Scholar: “‘Nature’s Burlesque: Margaret Cavendish and the Stripping of Natura
Jacob Tootalian, Texas A&M: “‘Saloman’s House Set Ablaze’: The Anti-Baconian Structure of The Blazing World’s Societies of Virtuosos”
Marilyn Shnider, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan: “A Union of Wit and Fancy: Margaret Cavendish’s Rhetoric for the New Science”

12:30-2:00 Lunch (on your own)

2:00-3:30 Session Three: Historiography and War
Hilda Smith, University of Cincinnati: “‘Durst neither look up...nor speak’: How far can we trust Margaret Cavendish‘s autobiography?”
Lisa Walters, St. Joseph‘s University: “‘For why should you rob me of that which Nature freely gave?’: Rape, Slavery and the Politics of Natural Law in Cavendish’s Assaulted and Pursued Chastity”

3:30-3:45 Break

3:45-5:15 Session Four: Philosophic and Literary Traditions
Chris Laser, McMaster University: “Whose Utopia?: Nature and Class in Margaret Cavendish’s The Convent of Pleasure
Todd Borlik, University of Washington: “Bashing Pythagoras: The Antecedents of Cavendish‘s Animism”
Lara Dodds, Mississippi State: “‘I am of Marlow’s opinion’: The English literary tradition and materialist natural philosophy in Plays Never Before Printed (1668)”

5:30-6:30 Plenary Address
Stephen Clucas, Birkbeck College: Margaret Cavendish and Nature


Saturday, June 20

9:00-10:30 Session Five: Perception and Metaphysics
Valeria Holtz, University of Colorado: “‘The Blinking World of Wit’: Alternate Realities in Cavendish‘s Articulation of Subject”
James Fitzmaurice, Sheffield University, UK, and Northern Colorado University: “Margaret and William Cavendish on Imagination, Fancy, and Wit”
Brandie Siegfried, Brigham Young University: “Modeling, Metaphor, and Margaret Cavendish‘s Stage of Fire”
Karen Foster, Dickinson State University: “Marginal Discourse and Spatial Boundaries in Margaret Cavendish’s The Covenent of Pleasure

10:30-11:00 Break

11:00-12:30 Session Six: Nature and Art
Leni Robinson, University of British Columbia: “Dance in Margaret Cavendish‘s Natural Philosophy”
Debapriya Sarkar, Rutgers University: “‘Profitable and useful arts’: Politicizing Definitions of ‘Nature’ in The Blazing World
Tien-Yi Chao, National Taiwan University: “‘Between Nature and Art’: Alchemical Underpinnings of Observations upon Experimental Philosophy and The Blazing World

12:30-2:00 Lunch (on your own)

2:00-3:30 Session Seven: Feminine Tropes
Erna Kelly, University of Wisconsin: “Cavendish and the Nature of Tears”
Jennifer Holland, Portland State University: “‘Logical Outlandishness’: Margaret Cavendish‘s Vitalistic Virginity”
Rebecca Dorman, University of Sheffield, UK: “Grave Potential: Considering Margaret Cavendish’s Grieving Women in Poems, and Fancies

3:30-3:45 Break

3:45-5:15 Session Eight: Female Friendship/Alliance
Meghan Parker, Texas A&M: “‘Women with Women seldom Agree, for our Sex is so Self-loving, as we cannot Indure a Competitor, much less a Superior’: Margaret Cavendish and the Nature of Women‘s Friendships”
Amy Greenstadt, Portland State University: “Margaret‘s Beard”
Gweno Williams, York St. John University, UK: “Singular women: Interconnections between the dramatic writings of Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) and Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623-73)”

Dinner (on your own)

7:30-9:30 Performance of The Blazing World Inside
An original commissioned production by Elizabeth Helman, University Lab Theatre, Withycombe Hall, East Entrance, OSU Campus


Sunday, June 21

9:00-11:00 Symposium on Cavendish and Nature
Lisa Sarasohn
Brandie Siegfried
Sara Mendelson
Stephen Clucas

1:00-3:30 Wine Tour (optional)
Willamette Valley Vineyards tour departs from The Gem

The International Margaret Cavendish Society is a not-for-profit organization in the United States.

All lectures are free and open to the public. For more information, contact:
OSU Department of History