Dr. Liesl Allingham delivered an address entitled "Domestic Creativity: The Spaciality of Gender and Authorship around 1800" at the 2nd Annual Interdisciplinary conference, "A Sense of Space and Place: Global and Local Perspectives" organized by the Mellon Globalization Forum, which was held at the University of the South, April 6-8, 2017.
This paper will investigate the ideological gendering of space through a close reading of poems by Philippine Engelhard (1779) and Sophie Albrecht (1781), 18th-century German poets, who both express an explicit frustration with gendered spatial limitations in their struggles for artistic legitimacy. Investigations of ideological gendering of space reveal the pervasive association of the home with stability , boundedness, reliability, and authenticity; in other words, with the feminine. Indeed, a general tendency persisits event today to link place itself-of which the home is the quintessential example -with femininity. Space, by contrast, is conceived as the site of unlimited possibilities, freedom, and mobility; it is as yet undefined or made into place. Thus space is described in terms that echo ideological constructions of masculinity. Given the firm entrenchment of the two-sexed model of gender identity and its associated socio-cultural and spatial-gendered divisions around 1800, women writers struggled not only to legitimze authorship, but also to ground female creativity within the domestic place allotted them. After all, Bildung, the notion of experiential self-cultivation so fundamental to late 18th-century authorship, required public engagement.
Following Michel de Certau, it would be impossible for these poets to step outside of ideological constructions of place; they cannot create new spaces. They can, however, use domestic place in ways that are not predetermined. By manipulating domestic place through tactics that seek to escape restrictive (gendered) dualistic categories, both authours subtly but successfully carve out spaces within domesticity that create the conditions from which female authorshiop can emerge.