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School of History, Philosophy and Culture
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
T526, Tonge Building
Dr Sally Holloway is a historian of gender, emotions, and visual and material culture in Britain over the long eighteenth century. She completed her AHRC-funded PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London in 2013, and subsequently worked on the Georgians season at Historic Royal Palaces, and taught at Queen Mary University of London, Oxford Brookes University, and Richmond, The American International University in London. Sally joined Oxford Brookes in 2017 as Vice Chancellor's Research Fellow in History & History of Art.Sally's monograph The Game of Love in Georgian England: Courtship, Emotions and Material Culture was published with the Oxford University Press series 'Emotions in History' in January 2019. You can read an introductory blog post about the book, and listen to an interview with BBC History Magazine's History Extra podcast.
With Dr Katie Barclay, Sally is currently co-editing a special issue of Cultural & Social History titled 'Interrogating Romantic Love', in which she has an article on Valentine's Day in England c. 1660-1830, and A Cultural History of Love in the Age of Enlightenment (Bloomsbury, 2021), in which she has a chapter on the global visual and material culture of love. Sally's new project examines the history of heartbreak in Britain.
U60003 - Being Human: Love, Sex & Death (Foundation in Humanities)
U67512 - A People's History of Britain (First year)
P67723 - Culture, Community & Family in Britain 1660-1918 (Second year)
Sally's research interests include:
2018 Awarded £310 by the Royal Historical Society to co-organise the conference 'Eighteenth Century Now: The Current State of British History' at the Institute of Historical Research with Esther Brot, Dr Joseph Cozens, and Miranda Reading
2018 Awarded £600 by the AHRC Language Acts and Worldmaking project to co-organise the workshop 'Language and Emotion: From Research to Practice' with Dr Ingrid Medby
2018 Awarded a Scouloudi Publication Award of £650 for The Game of Love in Georgian England (Oxford, 2019)
2015-17 Awarded £1,700 by the Queen Mary Centre for Public Engagement to establish the 'Reading Emotions' community book group with Dr Jane Mackelworth (QMUL)
2016 Early Career International Research Fellow at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions
2016 Awarded £2,000 by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions at the University of Adelaide for the conference 'Romantic Rituals: "Making Love" in Europe 1600-Present' co-organised with Dr Katie Barclay (Adelaide)
2014 Visiting Research Fellow at Chawton House Library and the University of Southampton
2013 Awarded £8,500 by the European Research Council project 'Spinning in the Era of the Spinning Wheel 1400-1800' for the conference 'Emotional Objects: Touching Emotions in Europe 1600-1900' co-organised with Dr Alice Dolan (Herts)
2013-17 Associate Researcher at Historic Royal Palaces
2011-12 Awarded £3,700 by the Friendly Hand Trust to visit the Lewis Walpole Library, Winterthur Museum, and Bard Graduate Centre
2009-12 Full-time three-year PhD studentship from the Arts & Humanities Research Council
Sally has five years of experience as a researcher and consultant to factual history programmes on BBC 2 and BBC Radio 4, including series presented by Professor Faramerz Dabhoiwala (The Invention of Free Speech), Professor Thomas Dixon (Five Hundred Years of Friendship), Professor Amanda Vickery (Voices from the Old Bailey; Amanda Vickery on Men; At Home with the Georgians; The Story of Women & Art) and Dr Lucy Worsley (Fit to Rule: How Royal Illness Changed History; A Very British Romance).
In 2015, Sally was the consultant on Dr Lucy Worsley's A Very British Romance, and was interviewed about eighteenth century love letters (at 27 mins).
With Dr Jane Mackelworth (QMUL), Sally co-organises the Emotions Book Club, funded by Oxford Brookes University and the Queen Mary Centre for Public Engagement.
Courtship in Georgian England was a decisive moment in the life cycle, imagined as a tactical game, an invigorating sport, and a perilous journey across a turbulent sea. This volume brings to life the emotional experience of courtship using the words and objects selected by men and women to navigate this potentially fraught process. It provides new insights into the making and breaking of relationships, beginning with the formation of courtships using the language of love, the development of intimacy through the exchange of love letters, and sensory engagement with love tokens such as flowers, portrait miniatures, and locks of hair. It also charts the increasing modernization of romantic customs over the Georgian era - most notably with the arrival of the printed valentine's card - revealing how love developed into a commercial industry. The book concludes with the rituals of disintegration when engagements went awry, and pursuit of damages for breach of promise in the civil courts.
The Game of Love in Georgian England brings together love letters, diaries, valentines, and proposals of marriage from sixty courtships sourced from thirty archives and museum collections, alongside an extensive range of sources including ballads, conduct literature, court cases, material objects, newspaper reports, novels, periodicals, philosophical discourses, plays, poems, and prints, to create a vivid social and cultural history of romantic emotions. The book demonstrates the importance of courtship to studies of marriage, relationships, and emotions in history, and how we write histories of emotions using objects. Love emerges as something that we do in practice, enacted by couples through particular socially and historically determined rituals.
This article represents the first dedicated study of Valentine’s Day in England over the long eighteenth century. It argues that the years from c. 1660 to 1830 were central to the refashioning of the celebration as a modern ritual. During this shift, older customs such as lotteries were superseded by new traditions such as the exchange of valentine cards, with the commercialisation of festivities fuelling a consequent boom in homemade cards. By charting how a folk tradition evolved with the rise of consumer society, the article illuminates how commercial culture can augment, challenge – and ultimately change – material practices of love.
Sally is a convenor of the British History in the Long Eighteenth Century Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research in London, and with Professor Sarah Lloyd co-organises the seminar programme. She is a member of the Social History Society, British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS), International Society for Cultural History (ISCH), Society for the History of Emotions (SHE), and an Affiliated Research Scholar of the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary, University of London.
2019 'Dead Love: Emotions, Embodiment and the Broken Heart in England, c. 1720-1850', biennial European Association for the History of Medicine and Health (EAHMH) conference, University of Birmingham
2019 'Teaching Histories of Gender and Emotions using Eighteenth-Century Material Culture', International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ISECS) International Congress on the Enlightenment, University of Edinburgh
2019 'Love in Practice: Studying the Emotional Eighteenth Century', Eighteenth Century Now: The Current State of British History, University College London
2019 'The Progress of Love: Courtship, Emotions & Material Culture in Georgian England', Keynote lecture at Constructions of Love and the Emotions of Intimacy, 1750-1850, University of Warwick
2018 'Love: Searching for Happiness in a "Civilised" Society', British Psychological Society 'Stories of Psychology' event on the History of Emotions, London
2018 'What is love, and how do we do it?', Do We Really Know Everything About Love?, St Hilda's College, Oxford
2018 'Love & Consumerism', Emotions across Disciplines Seminar Series (co-organised with Dr Alexandra Macht), Oxford Brookes University
2018 'Textiles & Emotions in History', Think Human Festival: Craft Activism, OVADA, Oxford
2017 'Valentine's Day & Gift Exchange in Eighteenth Century England', History of Art Research Forum, Oxford Brookes University
2017 'Sensing Love: Courtship Gifts & the Production of Emotions in Georgian England', Embodiment & Emotion Artists Residency, Central Saint Martins & THE CUBE Gallery
2017 'Objects & Intimacy: Sensing Romantic Love in Georgian England', International Society for Cultural History (ISCH) Conference, Senses, Emotions & the Affective Turn: Recent Perspectives & New Challenges in Cultural History, Umeå University, Sweden
2017 'The Emotional Heart', Two Hearts: Dissection and Desire, Barts Pathology Museum, London
2016 'Courtship, Craft & Consumerism: Rediscovering Valentine’s Day in Eighteenth-Century England', Romantic Rituals conference, University of Adelaide
2016 'The Script for Love: Romantic Lexicon in Eighteenth-Century England', Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, University of Adelaide
2016 'Shaping the Language of Romantic Love in Georgian England', Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, University of Western Australia
2016 'Love in Letters: "no Mortal ever felt so strong, so soft a Passion"', The Distinction between Passion and Emotion - In Search of Case Studies, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, University of Western Australia
2016 'Manufacturing Romance: The Economy of Courtship in Georgian England', Eighteenth-Century Research Seminar (ECRS), University of Edinburgh
2015 '"My heart is in my eyes": Sensory interaction with courtship gifts in Georgian England', Centre for the Study of the Body and Material Culture (CSBMC), Royal Holloway
2014 'Romantic Things', Things: Early Modern Material Cultures, Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge
2014 'An interspected letter from one of your Naughty Women: Writing the Adulterous Affair in England 1730-1830', British History in the Long Eighteenth Century Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, London
2012 'Textile Transformations: Women's Creation of Courtship & Birth Tokens 1680-1850', Transforming Objects Conference, Northumbria University
2012 'Courtship and Birth Tokens and the Materialization of Female Identity', Social History Society Conference
2011 'Romantic Love & the Eighteenth Century Self', Cambridge Conference on Early Modern Selves, Trinity College, Cambridge
2011 'Ribbons and Rings will work most strange feats: Eighteenth-Century Love Tokens & the Material Expression of Affection', Material Networks | Networked Materials Symposium, Bard Graduate Center, New York
2010 '"I opened, I read, & I was delighted": The Emotional Experience of Love Letters in the Long Eighteenth Century', Women's History Seminar, Institute of Historical Research