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HomeEventsSandra Friesen - “Dainty Fine Duchesses” of the Libertine Restoration (Esther Birney Series)

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Sandra Friesen - “Dainty Fine Duchesses” of the Libertine Restoration (Esther Birney Series)

Thursday, December 2, 2021, 10:30 AM until 12:00 PM
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Esther Birney Lecture Series
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“Dainty Fine Duchesses” of the Libertine Restoration (1660-1700): Women, Sex, and Satire in the Court of Charles II. In the Halpern Room. (See below for full description.)

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In the famously libertine court of Charles II, a form of underground satire proliferated that was so lascivious and vulgar it could raise the eyebrows of even the worldliest among us today.  Through the case of royal mistress Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland, this talk explores the clandestine satires on Restoration England's court ladies (ca. 1660-1700), alongside their visual portraits and colourful biographies. 

Far from being empty, throwaway slander or satire intended only to take indirect aim at the king and his male court (as has long been assumed by traditional scholarship), Dr. Friesen will discuss how these risqué, virulent satires circulated widely in the period to chronicle court affairs, disseminate gossip, and impart both fame and infamy on their subjects.  As such, they functioned not only as political and sexual commentary, but also as a form of portraiture in verse - however unflattering and caricatured - that is crucial to gaining a complete picture of women's roles, influence, and celebrity in Restoration London and beyond.

Langara College instructor Sandra Friesen obtained her BA in English and French and MA in English from the University of Western Ontario. She earned her PhD at the University of Victoria
Her dissertation on late 17th century political humour and satire was (mostly) a delight to write.

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