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QMCECS Seminar: Penelope Corfield, 1st October 2019

September 24, 2019

1 October 2019

Penelope Corfield (RHUL and Newcastle)

Change within Change: The Decline of the Deep Bow/Curtsey and the Rise of the Egalitarian Handshake in Eighteenth-Century Britain

This presentation develops Penelope Corfield’s earlier research into the history of inter-personal greetings. Etiquette books offered rules for formal behaviour but are not good guides to casual encounters. Instead, broad trends can be detected from evidence in letters, plays, novels and travelogues. The deep bow from men was slowly turning into nod and brief touch of hand to head; the deep curtsey from women was translating into a quick bob. Yet the long eighteenth-century in Britain saw not only change – but change within change. A new style of greeting, in the form of the egalitarian handshake, was quietly emerging. This presentation analyses the causes, timings, and meanings of these innovations.

Chair: Amanda Vickery

Time: Semester One: 6.00-8.00pm. Note change from our usual time.

Location: ArtsTwo 2.17, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End, London, E1 4NS.

Convenors: Prof Markman Ellis, English (; Prof Colin Jones, History (; Prof Miles Ogborn, Geography (; Prof Amanda Vickery, History (; Prof Barbara Taylor, English and History (; Dr Will Bowers, English (; Dr Hannah Williams, History (

[Travel instructions: take the Central Line or District Line to Mile End. Exit the tube station, turn left down Mile End Road, crossing the Burdett Road/Grove Road intersection, passing under the Mile End Green Bridge and over the canal, to the campus entrance at Westfield Way. Turn first Entering campus here, turn first left, pass along the back of ArtsOne, the Law building and the Novo cemetery, to find ArtsTwo, the School of History building].

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