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Persistent preachers, 1807–1907
Author: 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.

The biography of an insurgent woman
Author: Maureen Wright

Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy (1833–1918) was one of the most significant pioneers of the British women's emancipation movement, though her importance is little recognised. Wolstenholme Elmy referred to herself as an ‘initiator’ of movements, and she was at the heart of every campaign Victorian feminists conducted — her most well-known position being that of secretary of the Married Women's Property Committee from 1867–82. A fierce advocate of human rights, as the secretary of the Vigilance Association for the Defence of Personal Rights, Wolstenholme Elmy earned the nickname of the ‘parliamentary watch-dog’ from Members of Parliament anxious to escape her persistent lobbying. Also a feminist theorist, she believed wholeheartedly in the rights of women to freedom of their person, and was the first woman ever to speak from a British stage on the sensitive topic of conjugal rape. Wolstenholme Elmy engaged theoretically with the rights of the disenfranchised to exert force in pursuit of the vote, and Emmeline Pankhurst lauded her as ‘first’ among the infamous suffragettes of the Women's Social and Political Union. As a lifelong pacifist, however, she resigned from the WSPU Executive in the wake of increasingly violent activity from 1912. A prolific correspondent, journalist, speaker and political critic, Wolstenholme Elmy left significant resources, believing they ‘might be of value’ to historians. This book draws on a great deal of this documentation to produce a portrait that does justice to her achievements as a lifelong ‘Insurgent woman’.

Nest of Deheubarth
Author: 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.

Marriage In fifteenth-century Valencia

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.

Commerce, crime and community in England, 1300–1500
Author: Teresa Phipps

This book explores the legal actions of women living in three English towns – Nottingham, Chester and Winchester – during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. For the first time, it brings together women’s involvement in a wide range of litigation, including pleas of debt and trespass, as well as the actions for which they were punished under local policing and regulations. The book details the multiple reasons that women engaged with the law in their local communities, all arising from their interpersonal relationships and everyday work and trade. Through the examination of thousands of original court cases, it reveals the identities of hundreds of ordinary urban women and the wide range of legal actions that they participated in. This wide-ranging, comparative study examines the differing ways that women’s legal status was defined in multiple towns, and according to different situations and pleas. It pays close attention to the experiences of married women and the complex and malleable nature of coverture, which did not always make them completely invisible. The book offers new perspectives on women’s legal position and engagement with the law, their work and commercial roles, the gendering of violence and honour, and the practical implications of coverture and marital status, highlighting the importance of examining the legal roles and experiences of individual women. Its basis in the records of medieval town courts also offers a valuable insight into the workings of these courts and the lives and identities of those that used them.

Modernity and the Gendering of Knowledge
Author: Kate Hill

This book examines the roles and activities of women in British museums between 1850 and 1914. It shows women were active as employees, volunteers, donors, visitors, and patrons of museums, and examines the ways in which the growth of archaeology and anthropology in museums affected women, as well as their role in museums inspired by John Ruskin. It argues that to recover the extent of women’s agency in museums, we need to think of museums as distributed networks of people and objects; activities and objects outside as well as inside the museum institution worked to create knowledge and subjectivity. Such an approach reveals the rich new ways in which museums were developed by women, who brought new types of object such as social historical artefacts, and new ways of valuing and communicating those objects, as well as new concerns with community engagement and outreach. Yet the book also outlines the limits of women’s museum roles, showing how they were unable to have much influence over large, national museums, and colonised instead small, regional museums, especially those situated in slum areas. Nevertheless, it argues that women and museums between them formulated a distinctive arena for the understanding of modernity, in contrast to many other manifestations of modernity, and that museums and women helped to make each other modern.

Britain, 1945–90
Author: Carmen Mangion

Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age examines the changes in religious life for women religious in Britain from 1945 to 1990 identifying how community and individual lives were altered. This work is grounded in three core premises: women religious were influenced by and participated in the wider social movements of the long 1960s; women’s religious institutes were transnational entities and part of a larger global happening; and the struggles of renewal were linked to competing and contradictory ideas of collective, institutional identities. The work pivots on the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), but considers pre and post Vatican II social, cultural and religious events and social movements of the 1960s as influencers in these changes. It interrogates ‘lived experience’ by examining the day-to-day lives of women religious. Though rooted in the experiences of women religious in Britain, the book probes the relationships and interconnectivities between women religious within and across national divides as they move from institutions embedded in uniformity to the acceptance of cultural plurality. It also engages with the histories of the social movements of the long 1960s. For too long, religion has been relegated to its own silo, unlinked to the ‘radical sixties’ and depicted as ultimately obstructionist to its social movements. To contest this, female religious life is examined as a microcosm of change in the Catholic Church pointing to the ‘new thinking and freer lifestyles’ that allowed for the questioning of institutional cultures.

A quiet revolution
Author: Simha Goldin

The Jewish society that lived amongst the Christian population in medieval Europe presents a puzzle and a challenge to any historian. This book presents a study on the relationship between men and women within the Jewish society that lived among the Christian population for a period of some 350 years. The study concentrates on Germany, northern France and England from the middle of the tenth century until the middle of the second half of the fourteenth century - by which time the Christian population has had enough of the Jewish communities living among them and expels them from almost all the places they were living in. The picture portrayed by Mishnaic and talmudic literature was that basically women lived under the authority of someone else (their fathers or husbands), therefore, their status was different from that of men. Four paradigms were the outcome of research blending questions raised within the spheres of gender research and feminist theory with the research methodology of social history. These were Rashi and the 'family paradigm'; the negative male paradigm; the Hasidic paradigm; and the community paradigm. The highest level of Jewish religious expression is the performance of the mitzvot - the divine Commandments. Women were not required to perform all the Commandments, yet their desire to perform and fully experience the mitzvot extended to almost all areas of halakhah. The book also describes how the sages attempted to dictate to women the manner of their observance of mitzvot set aside for women alone.

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This is the first book-length critical reading of the prose works of the Nigerian, America-settled, ‘global Igbo’ writer Chris Abani. Addressing his three novels – GraceLand (2004), The Virgin of Flames (2007), and The Secret History of Las Vegas (2014) – and the two novellas Becoming Abigail (2006) and Song for Night (2007), the book Chris Abani combines an original overview of the author’s career and new insights into his works. It provides a full picture of the oeuvre of a writer who is more and more asserting his worth in the international arena, and whose work stands out for the richness of its poetic language, its complex investigation of the contemporary human experience in a variety of extreme and surprising situations, and its probing ethical gaze. Building on the notions of biopolitics, necropolitics, mediascape imagination, and the performative quality of subjectivity, this volume highlights Abani’s ability to represent the tragedies and horrors of our times while also signalling the possibility of redemption. His characters’ attempts to find ways of becoming themselves, together with a poetical writing that clashes against the violence of history and humankind, make Abani’s work a significant contribution to the contemporary debate about human rights and literature.

Author: Cathryn Spence

This text provides the first full-length consideration of women’s economic roles in early modern Scottish towns. Drawing on tens of thousands of cases entered into burgh court litigation between 1560 and 1640 in Edinburgh, Dundee, Haddington, and Linlithgow, Women, credit, and debt explores how Scottish women navigated their courts and their communities. This includes a consideration of the lifecycle stage of these women, and whether those active in litigation were wives, widows, or singlewomen. The employments and by-employments that brought these women to court, and the roles these women had in the economy, are also considered. In particular, this book explores the roles of women as merchants and merchandisers, producers and sellers of ale, landladies, moneylenders, and servants. Comparing the Scottish experience to that of England and Europe, Spence shows that through the latter half of the sixteenth century and into the seventeenth century women were conspicuously active in burgh court litigation and, by extension, were active and engaged participants in the early modern Scottish economy. This book reevaluates what we thought we knew about women in the early modern period. As such, it will be of particular interest to those studying and teaching Scottish social and economic history and valuable to anyone studying the history of work and gender. It will also appeal to all feminists who have an interest in how women negotiate economic roles.