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A critical exploration
Editor: Anna Watz

Whilst many women surrealists worked across different media such as painting, sculpture, photography, and writing, contemporary historiographies have tended to foreground the visual aspects of this oeuvre. Featuring original essays by leading scholars of surrealism, Surrealist Women’s Writing: A Critical Exploration offers the first sustained critical inquiry into the writing of women associated with surrealism. The volume aims to demonstrate the extensiveness and the historical, linguistic, and culturally contextual breadth of this writing, as well as to highlight how the specifically surrealist poetics and politics that characterise these writers’ work intersect with and contribute to contemporary debates on, for example, gender, sexuality, subjectivity, xenophobia, anthropocentrism, and the environment.

Drawing on a variety of innovative theoretical approaches, the essays in the volume focus on the writing of a number of women surrealists, many of whom have hitherto mainly been known for their visual rather than their literary production: Claude Cahun, Leonora Carrington, Kay Sage, Colette Peignot, Suzanne Césaire, Unica Zürn, Ithell Colquhoun, Leonor Fini, Dorothea Tanning and Rikki Ducornet.

Surrealist Women’s Writing: A Critical Exploration offers an important resource for scholars and students across the fields of modernist literature, the historical avant-garde, literary and visual surrealism and its legacies, feminism, and critical theory.

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Labour, gender, authorship, 1750–1830

This book challenges influential accounts about gender and the novel by revealing the complex ways in which labour informed the lives and writing of a number of middling and genteel women authors publishing between 1750 and 1830. It provides a seam of texts for exploring the vexed relationship between gender, work and writing. The four chapters that follow contain contextualised case studies of the treatment of manual, intellectual and domestic labour in the work and careers of Sarah Scott, Charlotte Smith, Mary Wollstonecraft and women applicants to the writers' charity, the Literary Fund. By making women's work visible in our studies of female-authored fiction of the period, the book reveals the crucial role that these women played in articulating debates about the gendered division of labour, the (in)compatibility of women's domestic and professional lives, and the status and true value of women's work, which shaped eighteenth-century culture as surely as they do our own.

Open Access (free)
Sex, family planning and British female doctors in transnational perspective, 1920–70

Women’s medicine explores the key role played by British female doctors in the production and circulation of contraceptive knowledge and the handling of sexual disorders between the 1920s and 1970s at the transnational level, taking France as a point of comparison. This study follows the path of a set of women doctors as they made their way through the predominantly male-dominated medical landscape in establishing birth control and family planning as legitimate fields of medicine. This journey encompasses their practical engagement with birth control and later family planning clinics in Britain, their participation in the development of the international movement of birth control and family planning and their influence on French doctors. Drawing on a wide range of archived and published medical materials, this study sheds light on the strategies British female doctors used, and the alliances they made, to put forward their medical agenda and position themselves as experts and leaders in birth control and family planning research and practice.

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Gender, welfare and surveillance in the twentieth century

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.

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Gender, self, and representation in late medieval Metz

Performing women takes on a key problem in the history of drama: the ‘exceptional’ staging of the life of Catherine of Siena by a female actor and a female patron in 1468 Metz. These two creators have remained anonymous, despite the perceived rarity of this familiar episode; this study of their lives and performances, however, brings the elusive figure of the female performer to centre stage. Beginning with the Catherine of Siena play and broadening outward, Performing women integrates new approaches to drama, gender, and patronage with a performance methodology to trace connections among the activities of the actor, the patron, their female family members, and peers. It shows that the women of fifteenth-century Metz enacted varied kinds of performance that included and extended beyond the theatre: decades before the 1468 play, for example, Joan of Arc returned from the grave in the form of a young woman named Claude, who was acknowledged formally in a series of civic ceremonies. This in-depth investigation of the full spectrum of evidence for female performance – drama, liturgy, impersonation, devotional practice, and documentary culture – both creates a unique portrait of the lives of individual women and reveals a framework of ubiquitous female performance. Performing women offers a new paradigm: women forming the core of public culture. Networks of gendered performance offered roles of expansive range and depth to the women of Metz, and positioned them as vital and integral contributors to the fabric of urban life.

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Empire and domestic material culture, 1840–1910
Author: Dianne Lawrence

Missing familiar faces, practices and places is a commonplace amongst all who relocate, an inevitable response as old as human migration itself. During the latter half of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth, colonial expansion prompted increasing numbers of genteel women to establish their family homes in far-flung corners of the world. This book explores ways in which the women's values, expressed through their personal and household possessions, dress, living rooms, gardens and food, were instrumental in constructing various forms of genteel society in alien settings. The book examines the transfer and adaptation of British female gentility across the British Empire, including Africa, New Zealand and India. In so doing, it offers a revised reading of the behaviour, motivations and practices of female elites, thereby calling into doubt the oft-stated notion that such women were a constraining element in new societies. The central focus is upon the physical and the social (and also racial) environments of settlers and their colonial territories. The creation of the living room was a critical space on the basis of which a woman would be judged as to whether she had succeeded in creating a respectable, refined and genteel household. The book also highlights that food and the repetitive nature of its sourcing, preparation and presentation generated a multitude of ways for signalling genteel distinction. Scrutinising the practices of female gentility also highlights how the culture's innate sensibility to social conditions made it such a controlling device in colonial society.

Author: 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.

Advancing the cause of liberty

Irish women writers entered the international publishing scene in unprecedented numbers in the period between 1878 and 1922. This collection of new essays explores how Irish women, officially disenfranchised through much of that era, felt inclined and at liberty to exercise their political influence through the unofficial channels of their literary output. By challenging existing and often narrowly-defined conceptions of what constitutes ‘politics’, the chapters investigate Irish women writers’ responses to, expressions of, and dialogue with a contemporary political landscape that included not only the debates surrounding nationalism and unionism, but also those concerning education, cosmopolitanism, language, Empire, economics, philanthropy, socialism, the marriage ‘market’, the publishing industry, the commercial market, and employment. The volume demonstrates how women from a variety of religious, social, and regional backgrounds – including Emily Lawless, L. T. Meade, Katharine Tynan, Lady Gregory, Rosa Mulholland, and the Ulster writers Ella Young, Beatrice Grimshaw, and F. E. Crichton – used their work to advance their own private and public political concerns through astute manoeuvrings both in the expanding publishing industry and against the partisan expectations of an ever-growing readership. Close readings of individual texts are framed by new archival research and detailed historical contextualisation. Offering fresh critical perspectives by internationally-renowned scholars including Lauren Arrington, Heidi Hansson, Margaret Kelleher, Patrick Maume, James H. Murphy, and Eve Patten, Irish Women’s Writing, 1878-1922: Advancing the Cause of Liberty is an innovative and essential contribution to the study of Irish literature as well as women’s writing at the turn of the twentieth century.

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The second republic, 1960–2016
Author: Emer Nolan

This book is comprised of five interlinked portraits of exceptional Irish women from various fields – literature, journalism, music, politics – who have achieved outstanding reputations since the 1960s: Edna O’Brien, Sinéad O’Connor, Nuala O’Faolain, Bernadette McAliskey, and Anne Enright. Several of these could claim to be among the best-known Irish people of their day in the world. This book looks at their achievements – works of art in some cases, but also life-writing, interviews and speeches – and at their reception in Ireland and elsewhere, shedding light on some of their shared preoccupations, including equality, sexuality and nationalism. The main focus is on the ways in which these distinguished women make sense of their formative experiences as Irish people and how they in turn have been understood as representative modern figures in Ireland.

Open Access (free)
Female theatre workers and professional practice

Stage women, 1900–50 explores the many ways in which women conceptualised, constructed and participated in networks of professional practice in the theatre and performance industries between 1900 and 1950. A timely volume full of original research, the book explores women’s complex negotiations of their agency over both their labour and public representation, and their use of personal and professional networks to sustain their careers. Including a series of case studies that explore a range of well-known and lesser-known women working in theatre, film and popular performance of the period. The volume is divided into two connected parts. ‘Female theatre workers in the social and theatrical realm’ looks at the relationship between women’s work – on- and offstage – and autobiography, activism, technique, touring, education and the law. Part II, ‘Women and popular performance’, focuses on the careers of individual artists, once household names, including Lily Brayton, Ellen Terry, radio star Mabel Constanduros, and Oscar-winning film star Margaret Rutherford. Overall, the book provides new and vibrant cultural histories of women’s work in the theatre and performance industries of the period.