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Sarah Browne

Along with the suffrage campaign, women's liberation activism is one of the most renowned aspects of women's political history. The women's liberation movement (WLM) has often been linked with the 'big city'. This is the first book-length account of the women's liberation movement in Scotland, which charts the origins and development of this important social movement of the post-1945 period. In doing so, it reveals the inventiveness and fearlessness of feminist activism, while also pointing towards the importance of considering the movement from the local and grassroots perspectives. This book has two central arguments. First, it presses for a more representative historiography in which material from other places outside of the large women's liberation centres are included. Second, it highlights that case studies not only enrich our knowledge about women's liberation but they also challenge the way the British movement has been portrayed by both participants and historians. The book commences with contextualising the subject and summarising recent research into the movement in the United Kingdom. It looks at the roots of the movement by offering portrayals of the women who went on to form women's liberation groups in Scotland. The book then analyses the phenomenon of 'consciousness-raising' (CR) and the part it had to play in the WLM's development. The focus then moves to exploring where, when and why women's liberation groups emerged. The campaigns taken up by the WLM were to defend abortion rights and campaign against violence against women.

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Men on trial

Performing embodiment, emotion and identity in Ireland, 1800-45

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Katie Barclay

Men on trial explores how the Irish perform ‘the self’ within the early nineteenth-century courtroom and its implications for law, society and nation. The history of masculinity is now a burgeoning field, as the way men created and understood their identities is explored in different contexts, from marriage to the military, and with increasing nuance. This monograph contributes to this discussion through an exploration of how men from different social groups created, discussed and enacted manliness in the context of the Irish justice system. Drawing on new methodologies from the history of emotion, as well as theories of performativity and performative space, it emphasises that manliness was not simply a cultural ideal, but something practised, felt and embodied. Moving through courtroom architecture to clothing, displays of emotion, speech-making, storytelling, humour and character, Men on trial explores how, through its performance, gender could be a creative dynamic in productions of power, destabilising traditional lines of authority. Targeted at scholars in Irish history, law and gender studies, this book argues that justice was not simply determined through weighing evidence, but through weighing men, their bodies, behaviours and emotions. In a context where the processes of justice were publicised in the press for the nation and the world, manliness and its role in the creation of justice became implicated in the making of national identity. Irish character was honed in the Irish court and through the press.

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Victorians and the Virgin Mary

Religion and gender in England , 1830–85

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Carol Engelhardt Herringer

This interdisciplinary study of competing representations of the Virgin Mary examines how anxieties about religious and gender identities intersected to create public controversies that, whilst ostensibly about theology and liturgy, were also attempts to define the role and nature of women. Drawing on a variety of sources, this book seeks to revise understanding of the Victorian religious landscape, both retrieving Catholics from the cultural margins to which they are usually relegated, and calling for a reassessment of the Protestant attitude to the feminine ideal.

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Women and the shaping of British Methodism

Persistent preachers, 1807–1907

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Jennifer Lloyd

A response to the prominent Methodist historian David Hempton's call to analyse women's experience within Methodism, this book deals with British Methodist women preachers over the entire nineteenth century, with special emphasis on the Primitive Methodists and Bible Christians. The book covers women preachers in Wesley's lifetime, the reason why some Methodist sects allowed women to preach and others did not, and the experience of Bible Christian and Primitive Methodist female evangelists before 1850. It also describes the many other ways in which women supported their chapel communities. The second half of the book includes the careers of mid-century women revivalists, the opportunities, home and foreign missions offered for female evangelism, the emergence of deaconess evangelists and Sisters of the People in late century, and the brief revival of female itinerancy among the Bible Christians.

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Susan M. Johns

The book is an account of noblewomen in Wales in the high middle ages, focusing on one particular case-study, Nest of Deheubarth. Object of one of the most notorious and portentous abductions of the middle ages, this ‘Helen of Wales’ was both mistress of Henry I and ancestress of a dynasty which dominated the Anglo-Norman conquests of Ireland. The book fills a significant gap in the historiography - while women’s power has been one of the most vibrant areas of historical scholarship for thirty years, Welsh medieval studies has not yet responded. It develops understandings of the interactions of gender with conquest, imperialism, and with the social and cultural transformations of the middle ages, from a new perspective. Many studies have recently appeared reconsidering these relationships, but few if any have women and gender as a core theme. Gender, Nation and Conquest will therefore be of interest to all researching, teaching and studying the high middle ages in Britain and Ireland, and to a wider audience for which medieval women’s history women is a growing fascination. Hitherto Nest has been seen as the pawn of powerful men. A more general discussion of ideals concerning beauty, love, sex and marriage and an analysis of the interconnecting identities of Nest throws light on her role as wife/concubine/mistress. A unique feature of the book is its examination of the story of Nest in its many forms over succeeding centuries, during which it has formed part of significant narratives of gender and nation.

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Modern motherhood

Women and family in England, c. 1945–2000

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Angela Davis

This book examines women’s experiences of motherhood in England in the years between 1945 and 2000. Based on a new body of 160 oral history interviews, the book offers the first comprehensive historical study of the experience of motherhood in the second half of the twentieth century. Motherhood is an area where a number of discourses and practices meet. The book therefore forms a thematic study looking at aspects of mothers’ lives such as education, health care, psychology, labour market trends and state intervention. Looking through the prism of motherhood provides a way of understanding the complex social changes that have taken place in the post-war world. This book will be essential reading for students and researchers in the field of twentieth-century British social history. However it will also be of interest to scholars in related fields and a general readership with an interest in British social history, and the history of family and community in modern Britain.

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The feminine public sphere

Middle-class women in civic life in Scotland, c.1870–1914

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Megan Smitley

Middle-class women made use the informal power structures of Victorian and Edwardian associationalism in order to participate actively as citizens. This investigation of women's role in civic life provides a fresh approach to the ‘public sphere’, illuminates women as agents of a middle-class identity and develops the notion of a ‘feminine public sphere’, or the web of associations, institutions and discourses used by disenfranchised middle-class women to express their citizenship. The extent of middle-class women's contribution to civic life is examined through their involvement in reforming and philanthropic associations as well as local government. Feminist historians have developed increasingly nuanced understandings of the relationship between ‘separate spheres’ and women's public lives, yet many analyses of middle-class civic identity in nineteenth-century Britain have conformed to over-rigid interpretations of separate spheres to largely exclude an exploration of the role of women. By examining under-used Scottish material, new light is shed on these issues by highlighting the active contribution of women to in this process. Employing a case study of women's temperance, Liberal and suffrage organisations, this analysis considers the relationship between separate spheres ideology and women's public lives; the contribution to suffrage of organisations not normally associated with the Victorian and Edwardian women's movement; and the importance of regional and international perspectives for British history.

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Women, dowries and agency

Marriage In fifteenth-century Valencia

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Dana Wessell Lightfoot

This book examines labouring-status women in late medieval Valencia as they negotiated the fundamentally defining experience of their lives: marriage. Through the use of notarial records and civil court cases, it argues that the socio-economic and immigrant status of these women greatly enhanced their ability to exercise agency not only in choosing a spouse and gathering dotal assets, but also in controlling this property after they wed. Although the prevailing legal code in Valencia appeared to give wives little authority over these assets, court records demonstrate they were still able to negotiate a measure of control. In these actions, labouring-status wives exercised agency by protecting their marital goods from harm, using legal statutes to their own advantage.

The key factors in this argument are the immigrant and labouring-status background of these women. Many women immigrated to Valencia on their own from smaller towns and villages. In doing so, these women moved outside of their natal families’ sphere of influence, making them less embedded and subject to the authority of their kin relations. Labouring-status women worked themselves, most often as servants, to generate the necessary funds for their dowries. These factors gave wives of this status greater agency than elite women in contracting their marriages, providing dotal assets and challenging their husbands’ authority over this property in dowry restitution cases. Without the influence of their natal families in making marital decisions, these wives were able to act independently in controlling their marital property, negotiating the structures of patriarchy to their advantage.

Open Access (free)

‘The truest form of patriotism’

Pacifist feminism in Britain, 1870–1902

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Heloise Brown

This book explores the pervasive influence of pacifism on Victorian feminism. It provides an account of Victorian women who campaigned for peace, and of the many feminists who incorporated pacifist ideas into their writing on women and gender. The book explores feminists' ideas about the role of women within the empire, their eligibility for citizenship, and their ability to act as moral guardians in public life. It shows that such ideas made use – in varying ways – of gendered understandings of the role of force and the relevance of arbitration and other pacifist strategies. The book examines the work of a wide range of individuals and organisations, from well-known feminists such as Lydia Becker, Josephine Butler and Millicent Garrett Fawcett to lesser-known figures such as the Quaker pacifists Ellen Robinson and Priscilla Peckover.

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Women police

Gender, welfare and surveillance in the twentieth century

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Louise A. Jackson

For much of the twentieth century women police often played a key role in the detection and prevention of child abuse, neglect and the 'policing of families'. This book examines the professional roles, identities, activities and experiences of women police in the United Kingdom. It comments on the gendering of modern surveillance technologies, on the relationship between justice and welfare, and on the changing situation of women in the twentieth century. The book shows that assumptions about class, status, gender and sexuality were both challenged and reinforced by women police. Although institutional structures and hierarchies - including those of gender -shaped the women police officers' professional experiences, the senior officers achieved considerable success in creating their own professional networks. The book examines the status and 'respectability' associated with women's work in the police service, and focuses on personal testimony in order to discuss women's perceptions of themselves. It analyses women's operations within the technologies of physical surveillance, dealing with both uniform beat patrol and undercover observations. The regulation of specific groups was done through policewomen's 'specialist' role: firstly, the policing of family, youth and child welfare; and secondly, the regulation of sexuality in relation to adult women. Given that police duties were shaped by legislative frameworks and by institutional strategies, opportunities to transform daily practice were ultimately limited. Despite positive and approbatory statements from women officers regarding integration, women as a whole were far less likely to be promoted than male colleagues in the 1970s and 1980s.