Dr Julie Gottlieb
Contact DetailsReader in Modern History
B.A. (McGill), M.A., Ph.D. (Cambridge)
20th Century British Political history; Women's history; British fascism; history of race & ethnicity.
+44 (0)114 22 22606
Jessop West room 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..
ConferencesRethinking Right-Wing Women
'Guilty Women', Foreign Policy and Appeasement in Inter-War Britain (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)
The history of foreign policy and appeasement has too often been told with the women left out. But were there 'Guilty Women' who supported the 'Guilty Men' and endorsed British foreign policy? 'Guilty Women', Foreign Policy and Appeasement in Inter-War Britain examines the place of gender in the formation, presentation and cultural meaning of British foreign policy in the 1930s. Despite their marginalization from high political office and their formal exclusion from the Diplomatic Service, it breaks new ground by demonstrating that women were present in high-level foreign policy-making circles—such as the Cliveden Set, within the Conservative Party, or as Churchill's anti-appeasement allies. It considers the range and effectiveness of political responses amongst British women to the threat of fascism in the 1930s; how public and press debates about foreign policy adopted gendered imagery and language; and it argues that female public opinion – both real and imagined - was an important dynamic in electoral politics and discourse during the crisis years. Indeed, women's feelings and fears of war weighed heavily on PM Neville Chamberlain, 'the Father of Peace', during the Munich Crisis, while the whole policy and practice of appeasement came to be understood as an emasculated response to the hyper-virile dictatorships..
Feminism and Feminists After Suffrage (Routledge, 2015)
What happened in women’s history after the vote was won? Was the suffragette spirit quashed by the advent of the First World War, and due to the achievement of women’s partial (1918) and then equal (1928) suffrage thereafter, by having to wait to be reclaimed by the Women’s Liberation Movement only in the late 1960s?
This collection explores how individual feminists and the feminist movement as a whole responded to the achievement of the central goal of votes for women. For many, the post-suffrage years were anti-climactic, and there is no disputing that the movement was in numerical decline, struggling to appeal to a younger generation of women who knew nothing of the sacrifices that had been made to secure their citizenship rights and new freedoms. However, feminists went in new and different directions, identifying pressing issues from pacifism to religious reform, from local activism to party politics. Women also organised around causes that were not explicitly feminist or were even anti-feminist, and this book makes the important distinction between women in politics and women’s feminist activism. The range of feminist activism in the aftermath of suffrage speaks for the successes and mainstreaming of feminism, and contributors to this volume contest the narrative of a terminal feminist decline between the wars.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Women’s History Review.
This collection explores the aftermath of the Representation of the People Act (1918), which gave some (but not all) British women the vote. Leading scholars in the field explore the paths taken by former suffragists as well as their anti-suffragist adversaries, the practices of suffrage commemoration, and the changing priorities and formations of British feminism in this transitional period, a period of anti-climax in women’s history. In considering how generational conflict informed the contested legacy of suffragism, these essays examine the impact of universal suffrage on the main political parties. Were the hopes and ambitions invested in women’s and universal enfranchisement realized or dashed? How did those concerned evaluate the outcome as the years wore on? And why did the attainment of full adult male suffrage in 1918 become overshadowed by the seemingly more momentous achievement of women’s suffrage? The collection emerges from an international conference held in June 2011 at the University of Sheffield. Gottlieb co-wrote the introduction and contributed a chapter “We were done the moment we gave women the vote’: The Female Franchise Factor and the Munich By-elections, 1938-39”.
Feminine Fascism: Women in Britain’s Fascism Movement, 1923-1945 (I.B.Tauris, 2000/2003)
Feminine Fascism examines the roles, the activities, the representations, and the sexual division of labour in Britain’s fascist movement from the 1920s to the Second World War. This important monograph fills a significant gap in the historiography of British fascism, which has generally overlooked the contribution of the women on the assumption that fascist sexism translated into the exclusion of women from the British Union of Fascists. Gottlieb shows how women exercised their political agency, representing 25% of the membership, and rising to leadership positions within the sex-segregated hierarchies of the movement. They developed their own ideology of “feminine fascism” that borrowed certain aspirations from inter-war feminism but also had to be reconciled with fascist xenophobia, racism, sexism, and the leadership principle.
The Culture of Fascism: Visions of the Far Right in Britain (I.B.Tauris, 2004)
The history and ideologies of the Far Right in Britain have been well documented, but there has been little understanding of the movement's cultural foundations. This text takes the ‘cultural turn’ in fascist studies, and demonstrates that British fascism is not merely a political movement, but one that has as its goal the establishment of an all-embracing fascist culture. The contributions cover film, theatre, music, literature, the visual arts and the mass media. Striking examples of the material that they examine include fascist marching songs, "Aryan music", the creation of Mosley as a "matinee idol", "fascist science", the cult of the "New Fascist Man" and fascist "masculinity" and "femininity". The authors demonstrate the persistence of the Far Right cultural forms from Mosley's British Union of Fascists within the present National Front and British National Party. Gottlieb’s co-wrote the introduction and contributed a chapter “Britain’s New Fascism Men: The Aestheticization of Brutality in British Fascist Propaganda”.
Making Reputations: Power, Persuasion and the Individual in Modern British Politics (ed. with Richard Toye) (London: I.B. Tauris, 2005)
Is a charismatic leader also an effective one? What role do commentators and historians have in shaping politicians' personae? Making Reputations provides a major new assessment of the role of individuals in British politics. The authors examine the personalities and rhetoric of key figures, such as Gladstone, Churchill, Thatcher and Blair, as well as shedding new light on other neglected but significant individuals. Drawing on a variety of methods from gender to cultural history, the book presents a comprehensive examination of the relationship between the individual and the pursuit, maintenance and execution of power.
'“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.
‘Body Fascism in Britain: Building the Blackshirt in the Inter-war Period’, Contemporary European History (2011).
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.
‘The Marketing of Megalomania: Celebrity, Consumption, and the Development of Political Technology in the British Union of Fascists’, Journal of Contemporary History (2006).
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.
Module Leader - The Transformation of Britain, 1800 to Present, HST119 (First Year compulsory module)
This module explores the central political, social, economic, cultural and diplomatic developments that have transformed Britain since 1800. Unlike most of its European neighbours, Britain did not experience dramatic moments of revolution, constitution-building, invasion or military defeat; indeed the belief that the nation was set on a course of gradual evolutionary progress was central to many versions of British identity. This course examines how, when and why change occurred in Britain. Key themes include the transition to mass democracy; the impact of industrialisation; shifts in social relationships based on class, gender and ethnicity; and the rise and fall of Britain as an imperial power.
Module Leader - Appeasement, the Munich Crisis and the British People, HST2030 (Second Year document module)
The conduct of foreign policy in Britain in the late 1930s and the policy of appeasement in particular have been matters of sustained historiographical debate since 1945. This unit introduces students to some of the key sources pertinent to the discussion through a series of linked lecture workshops and seminars. These highlight the shifting debates between the ‘Guilty Men’ and the anti-appeasers, and the diplomatic perspective, but we also consider how the Press, the British public, men and women, and various political parties and interests responded to the Crisis and understood their position as the Second World War loomed.
Supervisor - Course Assignment, HST2091/HST2092 (Second Year optional module)
This is an extended essay undertaken in semester 2. It is an opportunity to undertake detailed independent study on a topic related to one of a number of broad themes, with collaborative feedback and support both from a supervisor and from a group of students working in similar areas. The Course Assignment and its associated seminar series and workshop on electronic sources will enable you to develop your research and academic writing skills.
Module Leader - Gender and Sexuality in Modern Britain, 1850 to the Present, HST276 (Second Year optional module)
Through lectures and seminars, this module offers an overview of the history of gender and sexuality in Modern Britain. We will examine political, social, cultural, demographic and economic change from the perspective of gender relations and constructions of gender identities and roles. Alongside our exploration of gender, we will be interested in shifting understandings of sex and sexual politics from the Victorian period of alleged sexual repression to moments of liberation resulting from two (or more?) so-called 'sexual revolutions' in the 20th century. We will explore how both women and men experienced, negotiated, and reacted to these changes in gender norms and sexual mores and do so by following, broadly, an historiographical approach and a conceptual framework that became increasingly important from the mid-1970s, and one that was summed up in Natalie Zemon Davies' prescriptive musing that "it seems to me that we should be interested in the history of both women and men, that we should not be working only on the subjected sex any more than an historian of class can focus entirely on peasants. Our goal is to understand the significance of the sexes, of gender groups in the historical past." (1975).
Module Leader - Fascism and Anti-Fascism in Britain, 1923-1945, HST3069/3070 (Third year optional module)
Through seminars, this module examines three inter-related issues in order to assess the impact of fascism on Britain between the wars: the rise of British fascist organisations themselves; organised forms of British resistance to domestic and international fascism; and the British political, intellectual and diplomatic elites' responses to Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Making full use of one of the best archives for this purpose in the country held here in the Special Collections of the University Library, first we examine the political organization, the ideas and the culture of 'native' British fascism from its inception in 1923 to the Second World War. Second, we will then move on to exploring active and ideological responses and resistance to British fascist and racist organisations by a loose coalition of Communists, Socialists, Liberals and even Conservatives, as well as the resistance mounted by those religious and ethnic groups most affected by fascist racial provocation and violence. By so doing, we will be concerned to measure the distance between the political centre and the peripheries. Third, we will consider how contemporary interpretations of fascism, and formal and more informal relations with the European dictatorships, contributed to the National Government's policy of appeasement on the one hand, and, on the other hand, to the greater definition of what was quintessentially "British" about Britain's war aims with the outbreak of World War Two. In assessing the significance and impact of fascism in Britain, we will ask some of the following questions: why was Britain almost alone in Europe in resisting authoritarian government during the 1930s? Why have historians been so fascinated by the British Union of Fascists (BUF) in particular, a movement that only recruited up to 50,000 members at its height? What documentary evidence is available from the study of British fascism and anti-fascism, and how has the expansion of the archival evidence (from public records to personal testimonies, from personal accounts to more systematic archiving of miscellaneous material) shifted perceptions of British extremist politics? How has the narrative of the failure of British fascism been written and revised from the perspectives of either social, oral, gender or cultural history? Was British anti-fascism merely 'reactive' — a range of political forces mobilized to meet the Mosleyite challenge — or was it equally ideologically motivated? Considering the ultimate success of anti-fascism, how can we account for the disorganized nature of Britain´s anti-fascism movement—was there an identifiable anti-fascist movement as such? Was appeasement a policy underlined by tacit sympathy for European fascist regimes or was it merely a pragmatic, if inglorious, early response to Nazi aggression? Was the internment of British fascists under Defence Regulation 18B at variance with Britain's claim to be fighting a war in defence of democracy? We will approach these and other questions by consulting primary source material, including political pamphlets and propaganda, newspapers, public records, memoirs, oral testimonies, visual material, film and recordings, and novels.
Module Leader - Sex and Power: The Politics of Women's Liberation in Modern Britain, HST6046 (Postgraduate module)
This module examines the integration of women and the evolving themes and demands of the women´s movement in the political sphere in Britain from the heyday of the suffrage movement up to the reign of Britain's first female PM, Margaret Thatcher. We will focus on both women's wide-ranging attempts and their more limited achievements to gain entry into the political establishment, at the local, national and international levels. Topics will include women's suffrage agitation; the aftermath of suffrage; inter-war feminism; feminist internationalism; studies of women politicians; Second Wave Feminism; and gendered readings of British political history.
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 two podcasts about the visit of Nazi Women's Leader Gertrude Sholtz-Klink's to London in early March, 1939-- the Munich Agreement only a few months before, and Hitler's violation of it only a week after this visit, and war itself only 6 months later-- listen to the BBC History podcast and On 21 March, 2014, I appeared on BBC Radio 4's 'Woman's Hour' to consider the significance of Nazi women's leader Gertude Sholtz-Klink's visit to London 75 years before. listen to the Radio 4 podcast.
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.
Royal Historical Society - Member
Women's History Review - Editorial Board
The Aftermath of War (a AHRC-funded network) - Steering Committee
Women, Internationalism and Gender (a new electronic forum) - Founding Member
Recherches Britannique (a new ejournal) - Editorial Board
University Administrative Roles
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.