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University of Iowa News Release

April 17, 2006

Colloquium Ends With Discussion On Female British Writers April 25

The third and final presentation of the University of Iowa 18th and 19th Century Interdisciplinary Colloquium's spring lecture series, "Social, Aesthetic and International Strategies of Self-Representation" will focus on some of the most influential women writers of our time and how they created an intellectual community in the Round Reading Room of the British Museum.

Susan David Bernstein, professor of English, women's studies and Jewish studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will present "Roomscapes: Women Writers in the British Museum from George Eliot to Virginia Woolf" at 7 p.m. On Tuesday, April 25, in Gerber Lounge of the English-Philosophy Building (EPB) on the UI campus.

"Our final event this spring is a wonderfully illustrated slide lecture of the inventive ways women writers from George Eliot to Eleanor Marx, Amy Levy and Virginia Woolf found intellectual community in the British Library Reading Room," said Teresa Mangum, colloquium director and UI associate professor of English and International Studies. "From fending off male 'mashers' to forming lifelong friendships, women writers built careers as writers and editors in part due to the ideas and encouragement they found under the dome of the old reading room."

Bernstein's talk explores the social, spatial and textual practices of women writers using and representing the Round Reading Room of the British Museum from 1857 to 1929. As a kind of Victorian frontier of interdisciplinarity housed within the courtyard of the British Museum, some of the most radical thinkers of the day, made the Reading Room synonymous with revolutionary currents.

Bernstein is the author of "Confessional Subjects: Revelations of Gender and Power in Victorian Literature and Culture," and the editor of recently published editions of 19th-century Anglo-Jewish writer Amy Levy's novels, "Reuben Sachs" and "The Romance of a Shop." Topics of Bernstein's published essays include Victorian studies and Jewish vulgarity in Victorian fiction. She has also written articles on Anne Frank's diary and the politics of identification, and on confessional discourse in feminist theory. Her current project focuses on the history of women in the Reading Room of the British Museum, 1857-1929.

The lecture is free and open to the public. A dessert reception will follow. For more information or special accommodations to attend this lecture, contact Mangum at or at 319-354-4748.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the 18th and 19th Century Interdisciplinary Colloquium and the Department of English and supported by UI International Programs.

The 18th and 19th Century Interdisciplinary Colloquium is affiliated with UI International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and dean of international programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and the community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Teresa Mangum,, 319-354-4748; Writer: Kelli Andresen