History In Focus logo and homepage link

History in Focus

the guide to historical resources • Issue 8: Gender •


An old photograph of a man seated with his wife and two daughters standing behind him

A family portrait c. 1930.


Select a publisher in the selection box below, or browse down the page.

OUP are offering In Focus readers a 20% discount on their titles listed here. For details, see OUP's special offer page.

This bibliography is taken from History Online, which provides bibliographic information on books and journal articles published by UK academic publishers. The selection below represents a brief selection of books on the study of gender and history in History Online. Search History Online for other books and journal articles.


Demons of Domesticity: Women and the English Gas Industry, 1889-1939

Anne Clendinning

'Women first found employment with the English gas industry, not as clerical workers, but as professional demonstrators and publicists. Nicknamed 'lady demons', short for lady demonstrators, these certified cookery teachers instructed ladies, servants and working-class housewives how to use and maintain gas cookers and appliances.

Demons of Domesticity considers the development of employment opportunities for women in the English gas industry from the 1880s to the 1930s, with a particular emphasis on the city of London and the Home Counties. It addresses the corresponding expansion and diversification of the industry's marketing strategies and the important role played by women, as both purveyors and consumers of domestic utility services. Demons of Domesticity increases our understanding of the shifting relationships between gender, work and consumerism, moving towards an appreciation of how discursive relationships construct popular perceptions of new and exsisting technologies.

Published December 2004

Women, Sex and Marriage in Early Modern Venice

Daniela Hacke

This is the first book to investigate systematicallu the roles of Church and State in the stabilising moral order after Catholic Reform. It focuses on Venice, examining how civil and ecclesiastical courts dealt with conflicts related to marriage and sex, in an effort to enforce their vision of a morally ordered society.

Published November 2004

Women in Early Modern Polish Society, Against the European Background

Maria Bogucka

Far fewer studies on women and gender have been published in Poland than in the West. Bogucka examines the role of women's work in the countryside and towns; the impact of Reformation on the situation of women; the participation of women in the creation and consumption of culture; women's roles in political life; and the legal status of women in Poland as compared to those in the West and in Central and Eastern Europe.

The first general history of Polish women in the early modern times was published by Dr Bogucka in Polish in 1998.

Published July 2004

Shamanism, Catholicism and Gender Relations in Colonial Philippines, 1521-1685

Carolyn Brewer

In Shamanism, Catholicism and Gender Relations in Colonial Philippines, 1521-1685, Carolyn Brewer explores the cultural clash that ensued when Hispanic Catholicism came into contact with Filipino Animism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Brewer explores the way indigenous women were represented in various early modern sources. She writes the female shamans back into the history of the Philipines and elucidates the processes by which the Christian missionaries reviled and then supplanted them. Finally, using inquisition documents, she reconstructs indigenous gender relationships, showing how high class Zambal men and boys collaborated with the Spainards to banish the shaman women and eradicate their influence. A meticulously researched book, Brewer demonstrates the connections between religion, ideology and power, and how contact with Christianity reshaped gender roles in the early modern Philippines.

Published September 2004

Clothing Culture, 1350-1650

Edited by Catherine Richardson

Tackling the issue of clothing in relation to such fundamental issues as national identity, social distinction, gender, the body, religion and politics, Clothing Culture, 1350-1650 provides a springboard into one of the most fascinating yet least understood aspects of social and cultural history.

Published August 2004

Back to top

Boydell and Brewer

Medieval Religious Women in the Low Countries: The 'Modern Devotion', the Canonesses of Windesheim and their Writings

Wybren Scheepsma, translated by David F. Johnson

In the last decades of the fourteenth century a new religious movement arouse in the northern Low Countries, the so-called Modern Devotion, which had a major influence upon religious life in Europe, and was particularly popular with women. Until now there has been no study of the women who played a part in the movement, but this book seeks to fill the gap through a case study of the Chapter of Windesheim and the mystical and religious texts its sisters produced, typical of the female spiritual experience of the Modern Devotion.

Published 2004

Versions of Virginity in Late Medieval England

Sarah Salih

This study looks at the question of what it meant to be a virgin in the middle ages and the forms which female virginity took. It begins with the assumptions that there is more to virginity than sexual inexperience and that virginity may be considered as a gendered identity, a role which is performed rather than biologically determined. The author explores versions of virginity as they appear in medieval saints' lives, in the institutional chastity of nuns and as shown in the book of Margery Kempe, showing how it can be active, contested, vulnerable, but also recoverable.

Published 2001

When Men and Women Mattered: A History of Gender Relations among the Owan of Nigeria

Onaiwu W. Ogbomo

Drawing upon narrative tradition, reenactment ceremonies, legends of gods and goddesses and the fusion of numerous genealogies, this book examines gender relations among the Owan people of southern Nigeria between c. 1320 and the beginning of the twentieth century. The author challenges the orthodox view that patriarchy had been the norm in all societies, adding to our understanding of the origins of patriarchy and placing its development in an historical perspective. He also suggests a new definition of matriarchy, not simply as rule by women, but also as a phase in the history of societies in which gender equality existed.

Published 1997

Back to top

Cambridge University Press

War and Gender: How Gender shapes the War System and Vice Versa

Joshua S. Goldstein

Gender rolesare nowhere more prominent than in war. Yet contentious debates and the scattering of scholarship across academic disciplines, have obscured understanding of how how gender affects war and vice versa. In this authoritative and lively review of our state of knowledge, Joshua Goldstein assesses the possible explanations for the near-total exclusion of women from combat forces, through history and across cultures. Topics covered include the history of women who did fight and fought well, the complex role of testosterone in men's social behaviours and the construction of masculinity and femininity in the shadow of war.

Published May 2000

The Household and the Making of History

Mary S. Hartman

This book argues that a unique late marriage pattern, discovered in the 1960s but originating in the Middle Ages, explains the continuing puzzle of why western Europe was the site of changes that, from about 1500, gave rise to the the modern world. Contrary to views that credit upheavals from the late eigteenth century were responsible for ushering in the contemporary global era, it contends that the roots of modern developments themselves are located in an event more than a millenium earlier, when the peasants in northwestern Europe began to marry their daughters almost as late as their sons. The appearance of this late marriage system, with its unstable nuclear household form, will also be shown to have exposed for the first time the common ingredients whose presence has perpetuated beliefs in the importance of gender difference and of a sexual hierarchy favouring males.

Published May 2004

Crime, Gender and Social Order in Early Modern England

Garthine Walker

This is the first extended study of gender and crime in early modern England. It considers the ways in which criminal behaviour and perceptions of criminality were informed by ideas about gender and order and explores their practical consequences for the men and women who were brought before the criminal courts. For the first time, early modern criminality is explored in terms of masculinity as well as femininity. Illuminating the interactions between gender and other categories such as class and civil war have implications not merely for the historiography of crime, but for the social history of early modern England as a whole. This study therefore goes beyond conventional studies and challenges hitherto accepted views of social interaction in the period.

Published June 2003

Gender in the Early Medieval World: East and West, 300-900

Edited by Leslie Brubaker & Julia M. H. Smith

Gender analysis is one of the most probing ways to understand both power and cultural strategies in pre-industrial societies. In this book, sixteen scholars on the cutting edges of their disciplines explore the ideas and expressions of gender that characterised the centuries from c.300 to 900 in milieux ranging from York to Baghdad, via Rome and Constantinople. Deploying a variety of disciplines and perspectives, they draw on the evidence of material culture as well as texts to demonstrate the wide range of gender identities that informed the social, political and imaginary worlds of these centuries. The essays make clear that the fixed point in the gender systems of the period was constituted by the hegemonic masculinity of the ruling elite, marginalised groups often invisible as historical subjects in their own right were omipresent in, and critical to, the gendered discourses which buttressed assertions of power.

Published November 2004

Men of Blood: Violence, Manliness and Criminal Justice in Victorian England

Martin J. Weiner

This book examines far more thoroughly that ever before the treament of serious violence by men against women in nineteenth-century England. During Victoria's reign the criminal law came to punish such violence more systematically and heavily while propagating a new, more pacific ideal of manliness. yet this apparently progressive legal development called forth strong resistance, not only from violent men themselves but from others who drew upon discourses of democracy, humanitarianism and patriarchy to establish sympathy with 'men of blood'. In exploring this development and the contest it generated Professor Wiener analyzes the cultural logic underlying shifting practices in nineteenth-century courts and Whitehall and locates competing cultural discourses in the everyday life of criminal justice.

Published February 2004

Back to top

Hodder Arnold

Writing Gender History

Laura Lee Downs

The fields of women's and gender history have expanded dramatically over the second half of the twentieth century, showing great vigour and variety in the breadth of subjects tackled and the range of methodologies explored. Writing Gender History explores the evolution of historical writing about women and gender from the early 1930s until the beginning of the twenty-first century. Designed to be accessible to student, discussion focuses neither on abstract theory nor on historiography per se, but rather upon the practical application of theory in historical scholarship on women and gender.

Published November 2004

Back to top

Manchester University Press

Myth and Materiality in a Woman's World: Shetland 1800-2000

Lynn Abrams

Shetland has a unique history in Europe, for over the past two centuries it was a place where women dominated the family, economy and the cultural imagination. Women ran households and crofts without men. They maintained families and communities because men were absent and they constructed in their minds an identity of themselves as 'liberated' long before organised feminism was invented.

And yet, Shetland is a place which was made by the most masculine of societies - those of the Picts, Scots and above all the Vikings - and its contemporary identity still draws on the heroic exploits and sagas of medieval Norsemen. This book examines how against this tradition Shetland became a female place and offers answers as to how, in this most isolated island community, the inhabitants transgressed and reversed their traditional gender roles.

Published March 2005

Masculinities in Politics and War: Gendering Modern History

Edited by Stefan Dudink, Karen Hagmann & John Tosh

In this innovative collection, a group of internationally known historians explores the role of masculinity in the modern history of war and politics. Building on three decades of research in women's and gender history, the book opens up new avenues in the history of masculinity. The essays by social, political and cultural historians therefore map masculinity's part in making revolution, waging war, building nations and constructing welfare states.

Although the masculinity of modern politics and war is now generally acknowledged, few studies have traced the emergence and development of politics and war as masculine domains in the way this book does. Covering the period from the American Revolution to the Second World War and ranging over five continents, the essays in this book bring to light the many 'masculinities' that shaped - and were shaped by - political and military modernity. Preceded by extensive historical and theoretical introductions, the volume is clearly divided into sections on revolution, nation, politics and subjectivity.

The contributors to this fascinating collection are Joanna de Groot, John Horne, Alice Kessler-Harris, Marilyn Lake, Joan B. Landes, Jacobus Adriaan du Pisani, Michael Roper, Sonya O Rose, Glenda Sluga, Carroll Smith-Roseberg, Barbara Weinstein and Thomas Welskopp.

Published March 2004

Leisure, Citizenship and Working-Class Men in Britain, 1850-1945

Brad Beaven

Working-class culture has often been depicted by historians as an atomised and fragmented entity lacking any significant cultural contestation. Drawing on a wealth of primary and secondary source material, this book powerfully challenges these recent assumptions and places social class centre stage once more. Arguing that there was a remarkable continuity in male working-class culture between 1850 and 1945, Beaven contends that despite changing socio-economic contexts, male working-class culture continued to draw on a tradition of active participation and cultural contestation that was both class- and gender-exclusive and that the issue of male leisure was intimately linked with contemporary debates on mass society and morality.

Published May 2005

Back to top

Oxford University Press

OUP are offering In Focus readers a 20% discount on all the following titles. For details, see OUP's special offer page.

Empire Families: Britons and Late Imperial India

Elizabeth Buettner

What was life like for the British men, women and children who lived in late imperial India while serving the Raj? Empire Families examines this British overseas community by looking at a series of families, their lives in India and their travels back to Britain. Focusing for the first time on the experiences of parents and children alike and including meanings of growing up in the Raj and an itinerant imperial lifestyle.

Published July 2004

The Long Sexual Revolution: English Women, Sex and Contraception, 1800-1975

Hera Cook

Between 1800 and 1975, sexuality in the West was transformed. Hera Cook shows how the gorwing effectiveness of contraception gradually eroded the connection between sexuality and reproduction. The increasing control over fertility was crucial to the remaking of hetrosexual physical behaviour and had a massive impact on women's lives. Dr Cook charts how, why and when attitudes towards sex changed from the repression of the nineteenth century to the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

Published February 2005

Marriage Wars in Late Renaissance Venice

Joanne M. Ferraro

Based on a fascinating body of previously unexamined archival literature, Marriage Wars in Late Renaissance Venice brings to life the lost voices of ordinary Venetians and opens up their world of intimacy and conflict, sexuality and living arrangements. Ferraro examines the scripts spouses, with the helps of their friends, kin and neighbours, brought to the city's ecclesiastical court in order to annul their vows or achieve legal seperation. While church authorities attempted to regulate the rites of marriage and Venetian patricians tenaciously guarded the stability of maritla state, Ferraro finds that it was actually couples and their families, in collaboration if not collusion with the community, who regualted the making and breaking of marriage ties.

Published October 2001

English Aristocratic Women, 1450-1550: Marriage and Family, Property and Careers

Barbara J. Harris

Based on extensive archival research, English Aristocratic Women demonstrates that aristocratic women's familial roles constituted significant political and public careers that were crucial to the stability of their class. It revises traditional understandings of Yorkist and early Tudor politics and provides a unique picture of every aspect of aristocratic life, highlighting the lives of many notable women.

Published September 2002

The Last Medieval Queens: English Queenship, 1445-1503

J. L. Laynesmith

The last medieval queens of England were Margaret of Anjou, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne Neville and Elizabeth of York - four very different women whose lives and queenship were dominated by the Wars of the Roses. This book is not a traditional biography but a thematic study of the ideology and practice of queenship. It examines the motivations behind the choice of the first English-born queens, the multi-faceted rituals of coronation, childbirth and funeral, the divided loyalties between family and king and the significance of a position at the heart of the English power structure that could only be filled by a woman. It sheds new light on the queen's struggles to defend their children's rights to the throne and argues that ideologically and politcally the queen was integral to the proper exercise of mature kingship in this period.

Published February 2004

Which People's War? National Identity and Citizenship in Wartime Britain

Sonya O. Rose

What did it mean to be British during the 'People's War'? Professor Rose uses material from newspapers, diaries, novels and letters to examine popular notions of citizenship on the home front. She shows that what we now mean by 'identity politics' was alive and well in the 1940s and that any singular conception of 'Britishness' was extremely fragile.

Published May 2003

Back to top


Women, Power and Religious Patronage in the Middle Ages

Erin L. Jordan

As sisters and successive countesses of Flanders and Hainaut in the thirteenth century, Jeanne and Marguerite actively shaped the political landscape of northern Europe, and compiled an impressive record of monastic patronage. By examining a significant corpus of secular and monastic charters, this study provides a more complex understanding of the role of religious patronage in medieval society and illuminates concerns specific to powerful women. It simultaneously illustrates the use of patronage to further their politcal agendas, offering a glimpse of the experience of female rulers in a period when their actions were often constrained and obscured by gender bias.

Published July 2005

Making Women Martyrs in Tudor England

Megan L. Hickerson

Making Women Martyrs in Tudor England examines the portrayal of Protestant women martyrs in Tudor martyrology, focusing mainly on John Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Foxe's women martyrs often defy not just ecclesiastically and politcally powerful men; they often defy their husbands by chastising them, disobeying them and even leaving them altogether. While by marrying his female martyrs to Christ, Foxe mitigates their subversion of patriarchy, under his pen his women challenge the foundations of social and political order, offering an accessible model for resistence to antichristian rule.

Published May 2005

Masculinity and Spirituality in Victorian Culture

Andrew Bradstock, Sean Gill, Anne Hogan and Sue Morgan

In its specially-commissioned fourteen chapters, this important book discusses an impressively wide range of issues aronf the theme of male spirituality in the nineteenth century, drawing from history, cultural studies, art history and literary criticism. Topics explored include: ideological and iconographical representations of masculinity across the major Christian denominations; militarism and hymnody; male homosexuality and homoeroticism. The book is not afraid to explore controversial areas, nor to go beyond the generally acknowledged 'canon' of prescribers of gender identity: it includes, for example, leading non-conformist figures like William Booth and CHarles Haddon Spurgeon and early gay writers like John Addington Symonds.

Published October 2000

Back to top

Yale University Press

Common Bodies: Women, Touch and Power in Seventeenth-Century England

Laura Gowing

This title explores how ordinary women of the early modern period in Endgland understood and experienced their bodies. Using letters, popular literature and detailed legal records from courts that were obsessively concerned with regulating morals, the book recaptures seventeenth-century popular understandings of sex and reproduction. This history of the female body is at once intimate and wide-ranging, with sometimes startling insights about the extent to which early modern women maintained for forfeited, control over their own bodies.

Back to top