Seminar : “Cultures of Intimacy in the Nineteenth Century” – Queen’s University Belfast 26-27th of April 2019

Website : Cultures of Intimacy in the Nineteenth Century

Abstract: Keynote speakers: Dr Dominique Bauer (Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven) and Prof Monique Eleb (Ecole nationale superieure d’architecture de Paris-Malaquais)

This bilingual (French and English), multidisciplinary conference brings together a group of international specialists to discuss the timely theme of intimacy.

The nineteenth century has been labelled as the ‘century of intimacy’ [Diaz and Diaz 2009]. While during the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries the term referred to a close relationship, ‘intimacy’ later adopted a broader meaning. During the nineteenth century, its definition shifted from a scientific and philosophical meaning (the essence of a thing) to an individual and psychological perspective (what is inside us).

The word gained popularity towards the second half of the nineteenth century, even becoming an added value for marketing various literary products. An abundant discourse on and a widespread interest in what were considered intimate matters (sexuality, families, households, etc.) were characteristic of the time. These phenomena point to the concept’s relevance for both the private and the public sphere. Also important is the paradox of intimacy, which both refers to something considered private, and, at the same time, that which is often intended to be disclosed. It was the nineteenth century that paved the way for the concept to acquire its multiple and complex meanings, leading to our present-day understanding that to share intimate details of our lives with an extended audience is not to be perceived as a contradiction.

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