Dr Julie Gottlieb
B.A. (McGill), M.A., Ph.D. (Cambridge)
Reader in Modern History
20th Century British Political history; Women's history; British fascism; history of race & ethnicity.
+44 (0)114 22 22606 | Jessop West 3.04
Office hours: on research leave.
I completed a Joint Honours BA in English and History at McGill University (Montreal) before coming to Britain where I completed an MPhil and a PhD at the University of Cambridge. After completing my studies at Cambridge I was a lecturer at the University of Manchester and at Bristol University, before starting at Sheffield in September 2003.
I was visiting Professor at the University of Paris VII-Diderot in 2011.
My research interests are, broadly, in modern British political history (principally the period 1918 to 1945), the history of political extremism (with a focus on right-wing extremism in Britain), women's history and gender studies (particularly women in politics, and the construction of gender identities in the political sphere), comparative fascism (particularly gender and fascism in comparative perspective), and race and ethnicity in the British context.My current project examines women’s participation and their representation in British foreign affairs between the wars; women’s political activism in a range of internationalist, feminist and pacifist organizations; women’s contribution to resistance to fascism at home and abroad; and the gendering of the appeasement in the late 1930s. I am working on a monograph titled "Guilty Women: Gender, Foreign Policy and Appeasement in inter-war Britain" (forthcoming, 2015).
David Page - The Rise and Demise of the New Britain Movement, 1932-1935..
Lucy Brown - Men and Women in Love: Marriage, Sexuality, and Emotional Intimacy in Britain c.1955-1975..
Thomas Dowling - In Spite of History: New Leftism in Britain 1956 - 1979..
Sarah Kenny - Youth Culture in the North of England: A Study of Sheffield and Manchester, 1962-1985..
Steven McKevitt - What Happened to The Future: Did we Sacrifice Lives of Leisure for a Tyranny of Consumption?.
Ross Paulger - Gendering the Sexual Revolution: The Role of the Anglo-American Quality Press, 1960-1980..
'“We were done the moment we gave women the vote": The Female Franchise Factor and the Munich By-elections, 1938-39', , in The Aftermath of Suffrage, ed. J. Gottlieb and R. Toye (2013).
This chapter focuses on a few months in the autumn and winter of 1938-1939, the Munich Crisis and the subsequent by-elections, when the press and politicians certainly believed that pro-Chamberlain women and anti-appeasement men were on a collision course in deciding the nation’s destiny. The Munich Crisis and the history of appeasement have been largely neglected by gender historians. Likewise women, both individual figures and the female half of the polity, have been almost entirely ignored by historians of appeasement. This essay argues that women represented an important if unknown franchise factor in the Munich by-elections, while the representation and the experience of the Munich Crisis was starkly gendered. It would thus be against this backdrop of deep sex antagonism and distrust of women’s political judgement on matters of war and peace that women themselves reflected upon their own achievements two decades after they were enfranchised. It was also in this context of the perceived alienation between the sexes that the nation entered the Second World War.
'Femmes, Conservatisme et Fascisme en Grand-Bretagne: Comparisons et Convergences', in A Droite de la Droite: Droites radicals en Franceet en Grande-Bretagne au XXe siècle [translated from the English] (Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2012), ed. P. Varvaecke.
This essay addresses two central themes: the relationship between the ‘moderate’ conservative Right and the Extreme Right in the form of British Fascism; and, second, the importance of women in setting out the common ground between the two. The collaboration and collusion between these two contingents of women was highlighted by the frequent political journey travelled by so many from Conservatism to Fascism. But there was also much that separated them. By comparing and contrasting Tory and Fascist women’s attitudes towards foreign affairs, their understandings of ‘peace’ politics, and their respective positioning in the appeasement debate, the essay argues that each movement was successful at forging its own very different female political identity. Due in part to the frequency of defections from the Conservative Party to the BUF, women brought with them their experiences and expectations as formed in the Conservative Party into the fascist movement, especially concerning the appropriate the roles for women within the political organisation, effective strategies to mobilise female support, and the feminisation of central ‘conservative’ ideological tenets.
'Varieties of Feminist Anti-Fascism', in Varieties of Anti-Fascism: Britain in the Inter-war Period (2010), eds. Nigel Copsey and Andrzej Olechnowicz.
Did the responses of British women to the rise of fascism differ from those of men? Were their political responses colored and conditioned by their sex? During the 1930s, were there feminine and Feminist interpretations of fascism that contributed to the ideology and the practice of anti-fascism? The answer to all the above questions is in the affirmative, and this chapter explores and analyze the interesting diversity of women’s and Feminist understandings of what fascism represented for the progress of their own political concerns and for the peace of the world more generally. Furthermore, given women’s continued political marginality vis a vis the parliamentary system, within each party, and in the higher echelons of political journalism, women often resorted to new and more innovative genres to express their fears and their despair at the rise of fascism. Therefore next to publishing articles in newspapers and journals and producing monographs, the novel, and the dystopian novel in particular, became an important Feminist anti-fascist genre.
'The Women's Movement Took the Wrong Turning': British feminists, pacifism and the politics of appeasement, Women's History Review (2014).
Introduction: 'flour power' and feminism between the waves, Women's History Review (2014).
The history of foreign policy and especially the Munich Crisis of 1938–1939 have been viewed from various angles but never from the points of view of gender and feminism. This has been a significant oversight in the scholarship, especially as there were many prominent women politicians who were heavily invested in the appeasement debate, and because the majority of feminist organisations became increasingly preoccupied with foreign affairs and the specific effect of dictatorship on women. This article explores how British feminists responded to the policy and the fallout of appeasement in the late 1930s; how the British branch of the most prominent transnational feminist pacifist organisation, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) made the transition from peace, to Crisis, to war; before focusing on two intertwined biographical case studies of Kathleen Courtney and Maude Royden. There were various responses and dramatic fluctuations in positioning in the years leading to the world war, with many feminists struggling to come to terms with the intellectual, emotional and psychological shift from feminist-informed internationalism and pacifism to a rejection of appeasement and support for the war effort. Both Courtney and Royden had spent the two preceding decades in the forefront of the feminist pacifist movement, and the rise of Nazi Germany, the international crisis and then the Second World War itself forced each to resituate herself and make psychologically and ideologically wrenching decisions.
‘"Broken Friendships and Vanished Loyalties": Gender, Collective (In)Security and Anti-Fascism in Britain in the 1930s', Politics, Religion and Ideology (2012). (Special issue - ‘Women, Fascism and the Far Right, 1918-2010’, ed. Julie V. Gottlieb)
The study of women’s adherence to fascist movement and regimes is now widely developed, and much has been done to rectify the reductive view that women who supported Britain’s Fascist movements suffered from false consciousness or, on the other hand, were merely the victims of fascist sexism and misogyny. But what about those women who resisted fascism, women who were both actively and temperamentally opposed to the British Union of Fascists and who dedicated even more energy to opposing Fascism and Nazism abroad? We know that the names of many political women appeared on Heinrich Himmler’s Black List for Invasion of Britain, yet there were no organisations that successfully united like-minded anti-fascist women. This article is particularly concerned with the various ways in which women organised against fascism but also how their investments in pacifism and particularly the League of Nation’s panacea of collective security acted to reign in a more concerted anti-fascism. It examines how anti-fascism was and was not reconciled with pacifism, and more specifically how women-- represented as the world’s natural peace lovers-- worked through these ideological and emotional dilemmas during the course of the 1930s.
In our own time, the expression “body fascism” is commonly used in the mainstream media and in popular cultural discourse, having become part of the modern English lexicon. It tends to denote an infatuation with the body beautiful at the expense of substance, a celebration of physical fitness, muscular self-control and slavishness to style to the detriment of intellect and spiritual self-awareness. Notwithstanding the current usage and the slippage of the term, an actual cult of body fascism existed in Britain in the 1930s, an embodied fascism to which adherents dedicated themselves body and soul. This article returns to the roots of the culture of body fascism, puts some evidenciary meat on the by now distorted and deformed linguistic bones, and examines the politics of the British fascist body and the deployment of bodily metaphors in the language of the British Union of Fascists. The movement’s gender constructions and body cult needs to be seen in the context of their own time, and as significant, if politically marginal, responses to the gender disorder that accompanied political, economic and cultural crisis in the interwar years.
This article explores the ways in which inter-war British fascism marketed itself, and how it developed distinctive, and at times innovative, political technology to convey fascist propaganda and leader-lust. It examines how dictatorial power was conceived; how individual personalities– Mosley especially– left their imprint on the design of the BUF’s political technology; and how a persuasive aestheticized politics, which is typical of fascism generically, was staged in the theatre of British political life. It also shows that in all these aspects– in the fascist philosophy of political leadership, in the form and marketing of fascist political technology, and in the distinctive spectacles that the BUF mounted to attract potential recruits– the reigning leitmotif was the construction of a racialized hyper-virility. Although the BUF was strongly influenced by continental manifestations of fascism in all these respects, this article argues that the movement’s political discourse and language, its rhetorical and visual representations of Mosley’s leadership, and its trademark pomp were each a response to concurrent developments in the culture of British party politics and also in British popular culture in this period.
I have shared my research through international conferences and public appearances in the wider community, reached regional and national audiences on BBC Radio and local radio, and shared my work with the wide readership of the BBC History Magazine and as a podcasts.
My article "When a Nazi leader came to London", co- written with German historian Prof. Matt Stibbe, appeared in the March 2014 edition of the BBC History Magazine.
I have previously been invited to address community-based Jewish historical societies in Leeds, Hale, and Manchester. My work has attracted wider audience and media attention due to the interest, intellectual and often personal, in the participation of politically active women on the far right. I have frequently been contacted by genealogical researchers, such as Susan and Angela MacPerson, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of ex-suffragette fascist Norah Elam, and I regularly direct researchers to University of Sheffield Library, Special Collections, which has one of the richest collections available for studying this subject.
My work on the impact of suffrage has also excited public interest. I organised, together with Prof. Richard Toye (Exeter University) an international conference on “The Aftermath of Suffrage” at the University of Sheffield, 24-25 June, 2011. Delegates included students and those from outside academia, with a total of 50 in attendance.
In June 2015 I organised a conference on Rethinking Right-Wing Women: Gender, Women and the Conservative Party. 1880s to the Present. I was also interviewed on Woman's Hour discussing the extent to which Conservative women have been overlooked by history, who has been overlooked and why. You can listen to the interview here (from 33 minutes in).
I have also created a Storify page documenting the conference and associated research before, during and after. http://bit.ly/RethinkingRightWingWomen.
After an appearance on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour on the topic of what happened to women after the vote was won Sheffield listeners contacted me to invite me to give a lecture on “Suffrage — What Happened After the Vote was Won?” to the Time Well Spent Group (a local luncheon discussion group for seniors) in Sheffield.
I continue to address diverse audiences — school and community groups in Britain and abroad — providing a forum for intellectual and emotional interaction between diverse communities and across the generations.
In The Media
I have shared my research through conferences and public appearances in a range of groups in the wider community, to regional and national audiences on BBC Radio, a wide readership through the BBC History Magazine, and as a podcast.
On 7th November 2011 I appeared on BBC Radio Manchester's The Jewish Citizen to talk about my research on women and anti-Semitism. Additionally, I was a historical consultant and talking head on My Mother was a Blackshirt, a half-hour radio programme which aired midday on BBC Radio 4 on 4 January 2010, examining how the suffragette and fascist Norah Elam's (pictured right) fascist philosophy grew directly out of her involvement with the suffragettes, and how subsequently the British fascist movement became largely driven by women.
On 24 June, 2011, I was interviewed with Professor Pat Thane for BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour on the topic of what happened to women after the vote was won. In addition to this, I was also commissioned by the BBC History Magazine to write a feature article: “Guilty Women?” that appeared in the Christmas 2011 edition, and I was interviewed for the BBC History Magazine podcast.
I have also contributed to the department's History Matters blog. I am also editing a series of History Matters blogs on "Rethinking Right-Wing Women".
'Guilty Women' was reviewed in The Times Literary Supplement on 11 December 2015, and I was interviewed about the book by Jakub Drábik for Historyweb.sk.
I am currently on the Research Committee.
I have previously been on the Teaching Committee and the Post-graduate Committee. In 2011 I chaired the Level I Teaching Sub-Committee to lead reform of our curriculum by integrating research-driven teaching at level I, and our committee designed the first version of “The History Workshop”, an innovative module adopted by the Department in 2013-14.
I have been Level II Tutor, a student-centred role, in which I have introduced new time-efficient, rationalized procedures. In have also served as Course Assignment Co-ordinator, and CILASS representative, responsible for developing CILASS workshops, and responding to student concerns.