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

Spring Term 2015
DateSeminar details
23 January From the 'Right to Rule' to the 'Right to Reign': Monarchy and Women's Rights in Victorian Britain

Arianne Chernock (Boston University/KCL)

In 1832, the Unitarian minister and radical reformer William Johnson Fox (1786-1864) published an article titled 'A Political and Social Anomaly' that called attention to one of the central 'mysteries' of the British state. Why, Fox wondered, were women granted the 'right to the throne' but denied the right to an equal education, the right to hold property once married or the right to vote? This paper examines how a cross-section of Britons responded to Fox’s challenging argument, especially in the wake of Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne in 1837. In particular, it focuses on the efforts of traditionalists and conservatives (at least on matters of sexual equality), who introduced a range of strategies to try to render Fox’s claims moot by rethinking and restricting the 'right to the throne' itself. This paper, then, has two interrelated goals. First, it aims to demonstrate that sex and gender were at the heart of the transformation of constitutional monarchy into a more 'ceremonial,' 'procedural' and 'passive' entity over the course of the 19th century. Second, and more broadly, it seeks to place the 'right to rule' and the 'rights of women' in critical historical conversation, and, in doing so, to show how feminism helped shape the modern monarchy, and how the modern monarchy, in turn, helped shape the women’s rights movement.


6 February 'Every woman's destiny is motherhood': Women and work in post-war Italy (1945-1970)

Pamela Schievenin (IHR/Glasgow)

The Seminar has been cancelled as the Speaker is unwell and won't be able to make it. 


20 February Roundtable Discussion about Gender and the Two World Wars

Susan R. Grayzel (Mississippi), Lucy Noakes (Brighton) & Krisztina Robert (Roehampton)

Since the 1987 publication of Behind the Lines (edited by Margaret Randolph Higonnet and others), historical writing about gender and the two world wars has contemplated the varieties of wartime experience of both civilian and military participants.  This panel will re-examine the way the debate has been reshaped in response to new methodologies, theoretical perspectives and archival sources.  Drawing on their own research, the speakers will ponder how such new pathways as memory, material cultural, visual and spatial perspectives and statistical analysis of newly available sources have shifted scholarship.  With particular reference to the 'double helix' paradigm, the panel will assess the extent to which it remains a helpful lens through which to explore women’s experiences in wartime and where future scholarship may focus.


6 March Daughters of the Anglican Clergy: Religion, Gender and Identity in Victorian England

Midori Yamaguchi (Daito Bunko)

In Victorian times, when the existence of a 'family enterprise' was still prominent, a father's occupation had an immense impact on the lives of middle-class women. It shaped their lives and affected the construction of their identity, especially as they had few qualifications of their own. As the Church of England steered its way through the expansion of Nonconformist sects, the threat of disestablishment, the spread of 'intellectual doubt', and the agricultural depression, the lives of the inhabitants of individual parsonages were influenced by the Church's reactions to these crises. The circumstances of the daughters of its clerics would, in turn, come to shape Church attitudes towards women's causes; the emotional tie between father and daughter often underpinned such institutional views. This paper reveals the link between lives in Victorian parsonages, women's educational reform and the Church of England's strategies.


20 March Lower-Deck Masculinities and the Plebeian Experience of the Naval Warship, 1756-1815

Elin Jones (QMUL)

The historiography of late eighteenth-century naval seamen has frequently dichotomised their experience and outlook between that of obedient cog in the machine of empire and war, and an engaged revolutionary force. This paper will examine the naval ship during this period as a lived quasi-institutional space in an attempt to analyse the material worlds of the naval seamen, and to elucidate how they understood themselves, and how they were understood by others, as men. The paper will hope to temper previous analyses, and will seek to ask what seamen as a labour-based group can tell us about plebeian gender history more widely.