History seminars at the IHR

Women's History

Convenors: Dr Kelly Boyd (IHR), Dr Anna Davin, Dr Lucy Delap (ICBH/KCL), Dr Amy Erickson (Cambridge), Dr Laura Gowing (KCL), Prof Clare Midgley (Sheffield Hallam University), Prof Janet Nelson (KCL), Dr Krisztina Robert (Roehampton), Prof Pat Thane (ICBH/KCL), Prof Cornelie Usborne (IHR/Roehampton)

For enquiries relating to this seminar please contact Kelly Boyd: k.boyd at blueyonder.co.uk

Venue:  Past & Present Room, 202, on the second floor

Time: Friday, 5.15pm

Autumn Term 2014
DateSeminar details
3 October 'The skeleton in my life': Harriet Gore Browne's 1860s problem with the empire

Charlotte Macdonald (Victoria University of Wellington)

While her husband, Governor Thomas Gore Browne, was held responsible for making New Zealand a site for one of the British Empire’s major wars in the second half of the nineteenth century, Harriet Gore Browne was haunted by the same events. She described them, in 1862, as ‘the skeleton in my life’. In a long exposition Harriet provided an analysis of the operation of imperial power and the dynamics of colonial pressure. It was an account intended for publication as part of intense debate over the limits and legitimacy of violence in colonial settings in the decade spanning the Indian crisis (1857) through to the Eyre/Morant Bay controversy of 1865-7. Harriet Gore Browne’s account languished unpublished for the rest of her life and for long thereafter. Why, and how do we understand the gendered nature of empire as a paper as well as a fighting contest?

17 October 'Prophecie shut up Prohibited': Tudor and Early Stuart Women, Censorship, and Censure

Alice Ferron (UCL)

The historiography of early modern censorship centers on the ways male voices were limited in the political arena. This paper seeks to expand our understanding of literary suppression by considering how women’s experiences confronting and overcoming censorship differed from men’s. The stories of Elizabeth Barton, Anne Askew, Elizabeth Cary, Eleanor Davies, and other less well known authoresses and book smugglers attest to a uniquely female experience of censorship. Women’s words and texts were not only restrained and confiscated; their characters were also severely censured.

31 October 'At Home' with the Women's Guild of Arts: Studio Spaces and Professional Artistic Identity in London 1880-1920

Zoe Thomas (RHUL)

This paper considers the tactics middle-class women decorative artists used to construct professional artistic identity between 1880-1920. Using the Women’s Guild of Arts as its focus, the paper reflects on the importance members placed on having a studio. The paper reveals women artists increasingly attempted to acquire studios, be this separate to their home, or through the reforming of existing rooms. The studio permitted women a new site in which to partake in a range of artistic, social and egalitarian activity, perceived to at least ideologically be separate from the constraints of the domestic and the amateur. This research builds on the flourishing body of academic work locating the blurred nature of middle-class women’s professional and domestic lives in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century.

14 November Rethinking the politics of race and feminism in England after 1968

Natalie Thomlinson (Sussex)

This paper challenges received wisdom on race and feminism in England. Two basic narratives exist about the Women’s Liberation Movement and race during this period. The  first of these narratives is that white feminists were entirely disengaged and uninterested in the problems of ethnic minority women, and that, as white women, their attitudes and political interests were unavoidably shaped by the racism of the post-imperial state. The alternative narrative is that feminism, by virtue of its radical leftist orientation, could not have been racist – as it was accused of being by many Black (and indeed some white) feminists - and that such accusations were simply divisive identity politics that split the movement.  Unsurprisingly, these two polarised narratives fail to capture the complexities of the relationship between white and Black feminists, and the ways in which the WLM did engage with race. In this research, I present a historically grounded account of second-wave English feminism that unpacks how the legacy of empire, the racialised structures of English society, and the traditions of both white and Black leftist thought inscribed the ways through which white and ethnic minority feminists related to and thought about each other. Whilst these debates were often bitter, they also ironically underline the increasing interaction between Black and white feminists, and the extent to which ethnic minorities had become increasing integrated within the political life of the nation.

28 November
Women and Work in Provincial English Towns : 1851-1911

Amanda Wilkinson (Essex)

The census is arguably the most important source that we have for carrying out large scale studies of the changing patterns of women’s work in Victorian Britain. Following the launch of the I-CeM project it is now possible to carry out research on a broader scale than ever before, exploring in greater depth the information contained within the censuses. This paper examines the differing experiences and employment patterns for working class women in a number of provincial towns and cities spread across England between 1851 and 1911, and asks how reliable the census is as a source for social and economic historians.

PLEASE NOTE:  this session has, with regret, been cancelled.  It is hoped it may be rearranged for a later date.